Marina Welker, “Kretek Capitalism: Making, Marketing, and Consuming Clove Cigarettes in Indonesia” (U California Press, 2024)

Indonesia is the world’s second largest cigarette market: two out of three men smoke, and clove-laced tobacco cigarettes called kretek make up 95 percent of the market. To account for the staggering success of this lethal industry, Kretek Capitalism: Making, Marketing, and Consuming Clove Cigarettes in Indonesia (University of California Press, 2024) moves beyond a focus on the addictive hold of nicotine to examine how kretek manufacturers have adopted global tobacco technologies and enlisted Indonesians to labor on their behalf in fields and factories, at retail outlets and social gatherings, and online. The book charts how Sampoerna, a Philip Morris International subsidiary, uses contracts, competitions, and gender, class, and age hierarchies to extract overtime, shift, seasonal, gig, and unpaid labor from workers, influencers, artists, students, retailers, and consumers. Critically engaging nationalist claims about the commodity’s cultural heritage and the jobs it supports, Marina Welker shows how global capitalism has transformed both kretek and the labor required to make and promote it. 

Marina Welker is Professor of Anthropology at Cornell University and author of Enacting the Corporation: An American Mining Firm in Post-Authoritarian Indonesia. 

Reighan Gillam is an Associate Professor in the Department of Latin American, Latino, and Caribbean Studies at Dartmouth College. Her research examines the ways in which Afro-Brazilian media producers foment anti-racist visual politics through their image creation. She is the author of Visualizing Black Lives: Ownership and Control in Afro-Brazilian Media (University of Illinois Press).

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