[SydPhil] Reminder: HPS Research Seminar, Monday 13, March 2023 at 5pm

HPS Admin hps.admin at sydney.edu.au
Wed Mar 8 10:19:03 AEDT 2023

School of History and Philosophy of Science


[The University of Sydney]



8 March 2023


Maurits Bastiaan Meerwijk, Leiden University

Dates: Monday, 13/3/2023
Time: 5:00 pm
Venue: F23, Michael Spence Building, Level 5, Room 501
How to register: Free, no registration required

Zoom Link: https://uni-sydney.zoom.us/j/85722285732<https://protect-au.mimecast.com/s/pnCxC5QPXJiMQwV25cyw3e8?domain=t.e2ma.net>

Abstract: In his first book, Meerwijk explores the Dutch colonial response to an outbreak of plague in Java that began in 1911. Drawing on a large archive that includes hundreds of photographs, the book traces the origins and development of one of the most invasive, sustained, and best-advertised health interventions of the Dutch colonial period in Indonesia: home improvement. Eager to combat the disease, Dutch health officials would integrate the traditional bamboo houses of the Javanese into plague’s “rat-flea-man” transmission scheme and embarked on a tremendous project to break this chain. Over the next thirty years, 1.6 million houses were renovated or rebuilt across Java in an attempt to build out the rat, millions more were subjected to periodic inspection, and countless Javanese were exposed to health messaging that sought to “rat-proof” their practices and beliefs along with their houses. Plague control, in short, facilitated an unprecedented expansion of Dutch oversight, control, and cultural influence in rural Java. The transformation of the built and natural environment was extensively documented in photographs and broadcast to diverse audiences as evidence of the “ethical” nature of Dutch colonial rule. These outcomes of plague control proved so advantageous that home improvement would persist even when more efficient alternatives to plague control such as inoculation became available and new pathogenic threats resulting from the scheme emerged.

Bio: Maurits Meerwijk is a scientific secretary at the Health Council of the Netherlands as well as a postdoctoral researcher at the Institute for History, University of Leiden. In Leiden, he works on a new project exploring the development of public health education by means of visual materials in early twentieth-century Southeast Asia.

Zoom: https://uni-sydney.zoom.us/j/857222857<https://protect-au.mimecast.com/s/JUnCC6XQ4LfPAZnqjt5EPSu?domain=t.e2ma.net>


[The University of Sydney]

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