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Dutch engineering overseas: The creation of a modern irrigation system in Colonial Java

Abstract

This article describes and analyses the development of modern irrigation in Java within the context of the establishment and transformation of the colonial state in the Dutch East Indies / Indonesia. In order to make this relationship comprehensible the concept “large technical system” has been adopted. The colonial socio-technical irrigation system was built between 1830 and 1942. Engineers, civil servants and agricultural experts were the main system builders and they formed specific coalitions practising specific irrigation approaches. After Indonesia gained its independence, the colonial irrigation system remained in existence and, consequently, irrigation engineering remained top-down, large-scale and focused on agricultural-technical management.

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He is involved in water control from historical and international points of view and also in the history of the Department of Public Works in the Dutch East Indies and Indonesia. He gained his doctorate in 1997 with the publication of De zegenrijke heeren der wateren. Irrigatie en staat op Java, 1832–1942 (“The Auspicious Lords of the Waters. Irrigation and the Colonial State in Java, 1832–1942”), Delft University Press. An English translation of his dissertation is forthcoming. He is currently working on a book on the history and the achievements of the Public Works Department in the Dutch East Indies.

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Ravesteijn, W. Dutch engineering overseas: The creation of a modern irrigation system in Colonial Java. Know Techn Pol 14, 126–144 (2002). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12130-002-1019-8

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s12130-002-1019-8

Keywords

  • Irrigation System
  • Civil Servant
  • Public Work
  • Irrigation Network
  • Technological Regime