Decent colonialism? Pure science and colonial ideology in the Netherlands East Indies, 1910-1929

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This article examines changes within the Dutch civilising mission ideology after the decline of the Ethical Policy. Support of pure science, scientific knowledge that supposedly transcended ideology and politics, allowed the colonial administration to continue to project their rule as decent and moral, even as conflict and repression dominated colonial politics in the 1920s. The argument starts with the construction of pure science after 1910, under the care of J.C. Koningsberger, out of the research traditions at the Department of Agriculture. It next examines the creation of institutions and agendas of pure science. And finally it analyses the absorption of pure science into the civilising mission of the 1920s. It concludes with a discussion of what this means for historical evaluations of the Dutch colonial project.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)187-214
Number of pages28
JournalJournal of Southeast Asian Studies
Issue number1
StatePublished - Aug 3 2009


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • History
  • Sociology and Political Science

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