Thesis ID: CBB491950509

Cultivating Power: Buitenzorg Botanic Garden and Empire-Building in the Netherlands East Indies, 1745-1917 (2020)


This dissertation examines the role of the Botanic Garden at Buitenzorg, created in 1817, in shaping the practice of colonial agriculture in the Netherlands East Indies. It explores how Buitenzorg and its surrounding highland environs were an ideal place for botanical investigations and agricultural experimentation. The initial task of the Garden was to produce knowledge about flora in the Indies, especially its economic potential, and to acclimatize new crops. By the 1870s, the Garden had expanded its work with the construction of two branches, the Mountain Garden and the Garden of Economic Botany. In these gardens, botanists improved the quality of exported crops, educated colonial staff on new agricultural methods, and assisted in the expansion of colonial agriculture to outer islands by providing seeds and inspections. From 1883 to 1900, the Garden evolved into the most advanced research institutions in the Tropics. It held the most complete collection of botanical works in the tropics, an herbarium, a library, a range of laboratories, and facilities for international researchers. It also managed a growing network of experimental stations that not only spanned Java but also changed the island’s nature through knowledge production. As a result, the Garden emerged as an exemplar for other botanic institutions in Asia. It also fulfilled two important interests of the nineteenth century: the New Botany and methods of agricultural extension. This dissertation shows how the Garden’s scientists established the rise of economic botany by shifting their emphasis from collecting and circulating plants to improving plants’ commercial and scientific value. Based on archival sources and colonial scientific periodicals, it argues that the Garden played a significant role in building the Dutch empire in the Indies, and shaped how other European empires came to research, manage, and exploit the nature of their colonies.

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Authors & Contributors
Goss, Andrew M.
Ertsen, M. W.
Pols, Hans
Marten Dondorp
Loring, Lorna M.
Pepijn Brandon
Studia Historiae Scientiarum
Design Research
Technology and Culture
History of Science
Historical Studies in the Natural Sciences
Swedish Collegium for Advanced Study
Vossiuspers UvA - Amsterdam University Press
University of Wisconsin Press
United Nations University
Uitgeverij Vantilt
Netherlands, colonies
Natural history
Botanical gardens
Science and society
Forsten, Eltio Alegondus
Trzebiński, Józef
Treub, Melchior
Hoek, Paulus Peronius Cato
Harting, Pieter
Thunberg, Carl Peter
Time Periods
19th century
20th century, early
18th century
20th century
Edo period (Japan, 1603-1868)
17th century
East Indies
Java (Indonesia)
Vilniaus universitetas
Uppsala Universitet
Dutch East India Company

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