Between about 1800 and 1945 the Netherlands was a small country with a huge empire in what is now Indonesia and the Caribbean. In order to conquer and explore this empire, the Dutch depended also on the help of German-speaking scientists. How did German-speaking science and Dutch imperialism mutually benefit from each other? What consequences did it have for whom?
Students learn about new approaches to the global history of knowledge. They gain insights into Dutch colonial history in present-day Indonesia, as well as into the history of various disciplines such as geography, biology or anthropology. They will learn to create their own analyses of the relationship between science and imperialism using sources.
As a small country with the second largest colonial empire after Great Britain, the Netherlands was permanently dependent on more imperial know-how, capital and expertise in the 19th and 20th centuries than it had available on its own territory. This opened up opportunities for development above all for those European regions that late or never formed their own colonial empires overseas. This is particularly true for German-speaking Europe. In the 19th century, German-speaking researchers and universities rose to become the world leaders of their kind. A substantial part of the German-speaking history of science unfolded in the "Dutch East Indies", today's Indonesia. However, the close and long-lasting historical relations between German-speaking science and Dutch imperialism in this region have hardly been examined by historians so far. In this seminar we will first of all use the secondary literature to gain an overview of the development of this relationship. Using case studies and historical source materials, we will then develop a deeper understanding of the ways in which the German-speaking sciences and their research institutions and the project of Dutch imperialism influenced each other. Particular attention will be paid to the question of what role Southeast Asian knowledge Producers played in the colonial construction of German-language scientific knowledge.