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Sebastiaan Broere MA

PhD candidate


Area(s) of interest: Asian History, Colonialism & Postcolonialism, Environmental History, History of Knowledge

Cohort/Start PhD: 2017-2018

Decolonizing Agricultural Knowledge

Project: Decolonizing Knowledge: Postcoloniality and the Making of Modern Indonesia’s Knowledge Culture, 1945-1970
University of Amsterdam
Promotor(es): Prof. dr. Remco Raben
Aanstelling: vanaf september 2017

This research examines the production, circulation, and uses of agricultural knowledge and expertise in Soekarno-era Indonesia. Rather than positioning science within the context of Indonesia’s decolonization, this project sets out to uncover how scientists’ practices and objects contributed to the imagining, enacting, and making of national independence and economical development.
During the first postcolonial decades, addressing the problem of food scarcity ranked high on the Indonesian government’s target list. For several reasons, the state’s most pressing issues included endemic malnutrition, occasional regional food shortages, and hunger edema outbreaks. For one, these phenomena raised the question whether Indonesia was really able to live up to its self-proclaimed ideal of berdiri di atas kaki sendiri (to stand on one’s own feet). In addition, hunger challenged Soekarno’s struggle of attaining social justice for all Indonesians, one of the five principles of Indonesia’s official state philosophy, the pantjasila. Finally, Indonesian imagined self-sufficiency in food production to be an important means to achieving and securing independence from the United States and the USSR. Food production became an important component of Indonesian nation-building during the 1950s and 1960s.
By unearthing the national, local, and international interests that rendered agricultural knowledge mobile during the Soekarno-era, Decolonizing Agricultural Knowledge seeks to extend the global history of science, recent scholarship on science during the Cold War, and the historiography of Soekarno-era Indonesia and its knowledge culture.