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Danilyn Rutherford
University of Chicago (Chicago, IL 60637-5418)
Technology and Colonial Experience in Dutch New Guinea

The book I am writing takes a fresh look at the relationship between colonialism and technology. I offer an analysis of colonial expansion that stresses its agents' dependence not just on their own equipment but on the "natives" and their technologies, as well. I am tracking the fantasies and frustrations spawned by this dependence in the record of state-building in western New Guinea, a far frontier of the Netherlands Indies. Drawing on science and technology studies, colonial studies, and recent scholarship on affect and cognition, I provide an analysis of the colonial encounter in this "Stone Age" region that stresses the irreducibly material, impassioned character of the processes involved. My findings reveal how encounters with technology fed the investments that provided an impetus for an empire to expand. There is no sharp boundary between mastery and dependence, when it comes to the lived experience of colonialism. The same is true of technology, as my book will also show.

[Grant products]

Project fields:

Fellowships for University Teachers

Research Programs

$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
7/1/2009 – 6/30/2010