Engineers of Happy Land: Technology and Nationalism in a Colony

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Princeton University Press, 2002 - 311 Seiten

Based on close reading of historical documents--poetry as much as statistics--and focused on the conceptualization of technology, this book is an unconventional evocation of late colonial Netherlands East Indies (today Indonesia). In considering technology and the ways that people use and think about things, Rudolf Mrázek invents an original way to talk about freedom, colonialism, nationalism, literature, revolution, and human nature.

The central chapters comprise vignettes and take up, in turn, transportation (from shoes to road-building to motorcycle clubs), architecture (from prison construction to home air-conditioning), optical technologies (from photography to fingerprinting), clothing and fashion, and the introduction of radio and radio stations. The text clusters around a group of fascinating recurring characters representing colonialism, nationalism, and the awkward, inevitable presence of the European cultural, intellectual, and political avant-garde: Tillema, the pharmacist-author of Kromoblanda; the explorer/engineer IJzerman; the "Javanese princess" Kartina; the Indonesia nationalist journalist Mas Marco; the Dutch novelist Couperus; the Indonesian novelist Pramoedya Ananta Toer; and Dutch left-wing liberal Wim Wertheim and his wife.

In colonial Indies, as elsewhere, people employed what Proust called "remembering" and what Heidegger called "thinging" to sense and make sense of the world. In using this observation to approach Indonesian society, Mrázek captures that society off balance, allowing us to see it in unfamiliar positions. The result is a singular work with surprises for readers throughout the social sciences, not least those interested in Southeast Asia or colonialism more broadly.

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Inhalt

Language as Asphalt
1
Hard and Clean Roads
4
Struggle for the Roads
8
Languagegame
18
Bahasa Indonesia Indonesian Language
31
Towers
43
The Cities
52
The Camps
60
Let Us Become Radio Mechanics
161
The Thing
166
The Voice
174
The Closed Circuits
182
The Mechanics
189
Only the Deaf Can Hear Well
193
Memories of Holland
197
Time in Three Dimensions
202

The Towers
73
From Darkness to Light
85
Dactyloscopy
97
The Floodlight
103
The Sublime
112
The Mirror
120
Indonesian Dandy
129
The Modern Times
130
Nationalism and the Birth of the Dandy
143
The Death of the Dandy
147
The Parade
154
Bacteria
204
The Splendid Radio
207
The Mouth of Karundeng
210
SportsmenDandiesJokersEngineers
215
Ear Culture
220
The Happy End
222
NOTES
235
SOURCES
285
INDEX
303
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Über den Autor (2002)

Rudolf Mrázek is Professor of History at the University of Michigan and the author of Tan Malaka: A Political Personality Structure of Experience, Bali: The Split Gate to Heaven, and Sjahrir: Politics and Exile in Indonesia.

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