Northwestern University

Mon 4:00 PM

SHC Klopsteg Lecture: ANTO MOHSIN

When: Monday, February 29, 2016
4:00 PM - 5:30 PM  

Where: University Hall, Hagstrum Room, UH 201, 1897 Sheridan Road, Evanston, IL 60208 map it

Audience: Faculty/Staff - Student - Public - Post Docs/Docs - Graduate Students


Contact: Natasha O Dennison   847.491.3525

Group: Science in Human Culture Program

Category: Academic


ANTO MOHSIN: Liberal Arts, Northwestern University Qatar

"Powering PELITAs: Electrification and Development in New Order Indonesia"

Description: During the “New Order” Indonesia, two power systems were being constructed in parallel and they now make up the built electrical infrastructure of the country: an interconnected grid using a high-voltage transmission lines connecting three islands (Java, Bali, and Madura) and a “grid without a grid” network of thousands of diesel-powered electrical generators spread across the archipelago. In this talk, I focus on the historical development of the second power system. Drawing on my dissertation research, I will show that the majority of the diesel generators were installed to support one of the New Order government’s objectives to electrify as many villages as possible, tying it to a narrative of an Indonesian identity as a country working hard to achieve its national goals through its Five-Year Development (PELITA) programs. This identity narrative lent the regime a powerful legitimacy to rule the country and to suppress dissenting voices when it deemed necessary. There were some proposals to build alternative power generating stations using non fossil fuels. But they were either underdeveloped or ignored by high-ranking officials of the state electricity company. As a consequence, by the end of the New Order era in 1998, diesel power stations existed in great numbers across Indonesia and they formed a crucial part of Indonesia’s power infrastructure supplying electricity to villages that were located far from PLN’s main power lines. Outside Java, Bali, and Madura they powered many localities and without them electricity provision would only be available in only about a dozen regions. But the outcome of the New Order’s efforts to electrify Indonesian villages produced mixed results. While some areas benefited from having electricity, in other areas inequality increased because their underlying socioeconomic structure was not considered in their overall village development planning.

Bio: Anto Mohsin is an assistant professor in residence in the Liberal Arts Program at Northwestern University in Qatar (NU-Q). He received his PhD in science and technology studies (STS) from Cornell University. Prior to joining NU-Q, he held a Henry Luce Postdoctoral Fellowship in Asian Environmental Studies at Hobart and William Smith Colleges.

reception to follow

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