Colonial engineers in the Dutch East Indies and the expanding vision from water to settlement projects

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The influence of colonial engineers in the Dutch East Indies can be traced back to the rise of modernization and urban projects, especially after the articulation of the Ethical Policy at the turn of the nineteenth century. Colonial engineers-who in the early period of Dutch colonization in the Indies mostly worked for maritime and irrigation-tried to systematize the substantial environment of the colony with their public works. Those engineers made significant contributions to the development of settlements connected through water, either the sea or the river. This study is a historical and theoretical investigation of the expanding vision of colonial engineers and aims to discuss how the vision of the Dutch engineers contributed to the construction and changes of the colonial city. The city of Batavia as presented as an example. The engineers in the Indies presented themselves as progressive middle-class and wanted to implement their technological plans as part of their contribution to modernize the colony. The paper argues that colonial engineers had played an important role in supporting modernity in the colony and their efforts had resulted in rapid changes in the settlements of the Indies society.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)56-64
Number of pages9
JournalISVS E-journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2017


  • Batavia
  • Colonial engineers
  • The Dutch East Indies
  • Traditional settlement


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