- Les Javanais du Caillou, Des affres de l'exil aux aléas de l'intégration: Sociologie historique de la communauté indonésienne de Nouvelle Calédonie / The Javanese of the Rock: From the Hazards of Exile to the Hazards of Integration
Jean Luc Maurer has been a specialist in development studies and Indonesia since the 1970s, and has also had long experience in New Caledonia. Thus, his study is well documented from both viewpoints: those of the sending and receiving communities of Indonesian workers in New Caledonia. His methodology includes classical historical research on documents; interviews with migrants and their descendants settled in New Caledonia as well as with return migrants in Indonesia (with extensive summaries in text boxes); a survey of two hundred Caledonian Javanese; and, finally, analysis of culture change and sociopolitical integration based on events and media documents since 1950.
After the failure of various efforts to increase the New Caledonia workforce, including the free colonization strategy from 1853, the convict colonization in 1864–1897, the short-lived Malabar migration in the 1880s, and the attempt to involve Kanaks in paid work through head taxation from 1898, New Caledonia called in Japanese and Vietnamese contract workers beginning in 1891. Then, after the mid-1890s, Governor Feillet turned to Indonesia. The Dutch colonial policy had ruined the Javanese economy by the late nineteenth century and poverty had become widespread, with thousands of landless people having no other resource to sell than their labor. The "Kolonisatie" (transmigration) and its ethnic, irrigation, and education components had all failed, and transmigration itself remained the last resort to alleviate population pressure in Java. This process of Indonesian transmigration was consistently organized by the Dutch colonial government with the aim of increasing the population of other low-density Indonesian islands and Surinam, and was associated with the government refusal from 1887 to let Indonesians emigrate to work for foreign companies or colonies. However, the English—for their plantations and mines in Malaysia and Borneo, and later the island of New Caledonia—could hire Indonesian workers under legal work contracts. Actually, New Caledonia had already implemented such contracts for Asian workers (noted above), but the agreement with the Dutch colony had to be revised in 1901. This book provides detailed information on the administrative side of the recruitment of Indonesians, regarding both the recruiting agencies' practices in Indonesia and the employment contracts in New Caledonia.
However, this legal framework, coordinated at departure and destination, did not prevent the conditions of recruitment in villages and conditions of work in New Caledonia from being very close to abduction and slavery. Originally, Indonesians were to work in New Caledonia only in agriculture and domestic services for women. They were soon also employed in mines for "surface work" (not underground work, but transporting ore after extraction). Then, after 1909, they were allowed to work freely (that is, without a contract) if they had completed an 8-year contract. Contracts, originally for 5 years, became 3 + 2 years from 1928 (which opened the possibility of workers leaving after 3 years). And, beginning in 1927, part of a worker's salary was to be "saved" and supposedly paid to them at the end of their contract. The main hardships [End Page 633] for these Indonesian workers in New Caledonia were the restrictions on their movements and also the work required of children along with their parents (children were not allowed to attend local schools until the late 1930s). Flows of Indonesian migrants were very irregular, following the ups and downs of the economic situation in New Caledonia, as shown by data of arrivals and departures of all ships with Javanese on board...