Skip to main content

Northwestern Buffett Institute for Global Affairs

"Electrifying Indonesia" Book Talk with Anto Mohsin

"Examining the historical development of power systems in Indonesia reveals some interesting insights about the country's electric infrastructure, society and politics—and how all of these were connected to the idea of social justice, nation-building and national development."

—Anto Mohsin

The Buffett Institute hosted a book talk on Friday, February 16 with Buffett Faculty Fellow and Assistant Professor in Residence at Northwestern in Qatar Anto Mohsin, author of the new book Electrifying Indonesia: Technology and Social Justice in National Development. The program featured a discussion with Julie A. Cohn, research historian in the Center for Public History at the University of Houston as well as non-resident scholar at the Center for Energy Studies in Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy, and Suzanne Moon, Lukas N. Walker Presidential Professor in the History of Science, Technology and Medicine at the University of Oklahoma.

Electrifying Indonesia tells the story of the entanglement of politics and technology during Indonesia’s rapid post-World War II development. As a central part of its nation-building project, the Indonesian state sought to supply electricity to the entire country, bringing transformative socioeconomic benefits across its heterogeneous territories and populations. While this project was driven by nationalistic impulses, it was also motivated by a genuine interest in social justice, which shaped the meanings of electrification and the ways private companies and electric cooperatives vied with the hegemonic state power company to participate in transforming the daily lives of Indonesians, especially rural citizens. Through his innovative scholarship, Mohsin brings Indonesian studies together with science and technology studies to understand a crucial period in modern Indonesian history.