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Technology and Ethical Idealism: A History of Development in the Netherlands East Indies

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Technology and Ethical Idealism investigates a pivotal intellectual and political moment in twentieth-century Indonesian history, the establishment of development as both an ideal and a practice. The focus of this study is on technological development as a central concern of colonial political life from 1900 to 1942 in the Netherlands East Indies. The foundations of develo Technology and Ethical Idealism investigates a pivotal intellectual and political moment in twentieth-century Indonesian history, the establishment of development as both an ideal and a practice. The focus of this study is on technological development as a central concern of colonial political life from 1900 to 1942 in the Netherlands East Indies. The foundations of developmentalist thinking and practice in the turn-of-the-century colonial reforms were called the Ethical policies. Tracing the interplay of Ethical politics at the highest levels of the Netherlands Indies colonial government with the technical practices of development taking place in the fields of ordinary Javanese farmers, it shows how and why technological development became such an enduring part of political and material life in the archipelago. This study offers a new history of the Ethical policies that focuses on their often-neglected technopolitical character, and the formative influence they exercised on development thinking in Indonesia among both Dutch experts and members of the community of Indonesian activists known as the pergerakan. In startling contrast with many histories of development, it shows how the interaction of colonial idealism and scientific practice led the Dutch to commit to small-scale change in their development of the native peoples. As experts tailored technical solutions to ecological, social, and economic conditions of local areas, they eschewed high modernism in their search for colonial moderni-zation, unexpectedly prefiguring the appropriate technology movements that arose decades later. Based on extensive research in the colonial archives in The Hague, the National Library in Jakarta, and the Bogor Library of Biology and Agriculture, this study draws on official documents and scientific research of the era, as well as public discussions in both Dutch and Indonesian language newspapers and journals in order to capture not just the official plans, but also a wide range of public critiques and responses to development, and the day-to-day practices that shaped the productive lives of ordinary farmers. Offering a new exploration of politics and technology in colonial Indonesia, this book will interest historians of Indonesia and Southeast Asia, historians of technology, and those seeking to understand the complex colonial roots of international development.


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Technology and Ethical Idealism investigates a pivotal intellectual and political moment in twentieth-century Indonesian history, the establishment of development as both an ideal and a practice. The focus of this study is on technological development as a central concern of colonial political life from 1900 to 1942 in the Netherlands East Indies. The foundations of develo Technology and Ethical Idealism investigates a pivotal intellectual and political moment in twentieth-century Indonesian history, the establishment of development as both an ideal and a practice. The focus of this study is on technological development as a central concern of colonial political life from 1900 to 1942 in the Netherlands East Indies. The foundations of developmentalist thinking and practice in the turn-of-the-century colonial reforms were called the Ethical policies. Tracing the interplay of Ethical politics at the highest levels of the Netherlands Indies colonial government with the technical practices of development taking place in the fields of ordinary Javanese farmers, it shows how and why technological development became such an enduring part of political and material life in the archipelago. This study offers a new history of the Ethical policies that focuses on their often-neglected technopolitical character, and the formative influence they exercised on development thinking in Indonesia among both Dutch experts and members of the community of Indonesian activists known as the pergerakan. In startling contrast with many histories of development, it shows how the interaction of colonial idealism and scientific practice led the Dutch to commit to small-scale change in their development of the native peoples. As experts tailored technical solutions to ecological, social, and economic conditions of local areas, they eschewed high modernism in their search for colonial moderni-zation, unexpectedly prefiguring the appropriate technology movements that arose decades later. Based on extensive research in the colonial archives in The Hague, the National Library in Jakarta, and the Bogor Library of Biology and Agriculture, this study draws on official documents and scientific research of the era, as well as public discussions in both Dutch and Indonesian language newspapers and journals in order to capture not just the official plans, but also a wide range of public critiques and responses to development, and the day-to-day practices that shaped the productive lives of ordinary farmers. Offering a new exploration of politics and technology in colonial Indonesia, this book will interest historians of Indonesia and Southeast Asia, historians of technology, and those seeking to understand the complex colonial roots of international development.

5 review for Technology and Ethical Idealism: A History of Development in the Netherlands East Indies

  1. 4 out of 5

    mahatmanto

    bukan saja pada masa orde baru, tapi sejak awal abad XX, para teknokrat adalah pelaksana dari kebijakan atau politik "pembangunan". para insinyur adalah andalan politikus. buku ini mengikuti buku van doorn, dengan memberi perhatian lebih pada peran teknokrat dalam dunia pertanian: salah satu titik kritis yang disasar oleh politik etis di tanah jajahan. bukan saja pada masa orde baru, tapi sejak awal abad XX, para teknokrat adalah pelaksana dari kebijakan atau politik "pembangunan". para insinyur adalah andalan politikus. buku ini mengikuti buku van doorn, dengan memberi perhatian lebih pada peran teknokrat dalam dunia pertanian: salah satu titik kritis yang disasar oleh politik etis di tanah jajahan.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Tyson Luneau

  3. 4 out of 5

    aldo zirsov

  4. 4 out of 5

    Ronan Oldroyd

  5. 4 out of 5

    Maurits Ertsen

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