Activist Styling: Fashioning Domestic Worker Identities in Indonesia

  • Mary Austin (Author)

Identifiers (Article)


This article investigates the use of dress by Indonesia’s domestic worker movement as a means of resisting gendered political disregard and legal exclusion. JALA PRT, Indonesia’s National Network for Domestic Worker Advocacy, founded in 2004 and spearheaded by feminist activists, supports the development of domestic worker unions. From the outset, it has campaigned for an Indonesian domestic workers law, and, since 2011, for the ratification of ILO Convention 189 (C189) on decent work for domestic workers. Analysing a series of demonstrations staged from 2009 onwards, this article argues that the use of elements of a housemaid’s uniform as a costume within a contentious politics of presence has helped keep domestic worker rights on the political agenda, fashioned workers into activists and created a collective history and new identity for Indonesia’s domestic workers as members of an emergent domestic worker class.


Indonesia, PRT, pembantu, domestic workers, uniform, costume, ILO Convention 189, JALA PRT, demonstrations, politics of dress