chapter  5
14 Pages

Institutionalising the Colonial Imagination: Chinese Middlemen and the Transnational Corporate Office in Jakarta, Indonesia

WithWilliam H. Leggett

Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork among transnational corporate employees*both expatriate and national*working in Jakarta, Indonesia, I examine the processes through which imagined markers of identity and difference, informed by Indonesia’s

colonial past, influenced corporate practices. In particular, I explore the persistence of

colonial hierarchies within the corporate structure of a company (fictitiously) named

TIMBER. I argue that TIMBER is not unique in the locating of Chinese-Indonesian

employees in middlemen positions between Western expatriate executives and

Indonesian national employees. Further, I examine the historical trajectories that led

to the currently acceptable hierarchical orderings seen in Jakarta’s transnational

corporate offices.