Publication Details

Silaen, P. & Smark, C. J. (2007). Quantification and the governable person in Indonesia 1830-1870. Journal of Global Business Issues, 1 (1), 25-34.


The “Culture System” was enforced in Java and other parts of Indonesia by the Dutch colonial government between 1830 and 1870. Under this system, Indonesian farmers were forced to put aside part of their land and labor for growing cash crops such as sugar, coffee, indigo, tobacco and pepper so that they could pay their land tax to the Dutch. This paper examines the ramifications of this policy and how it supported the interests of the Dutch colonial masters, but it also looks at how the policy promoted ideals of rationality, quantification and efficiency in the Indonesian archipelago. In tracing the impact that these ideas brought with them, this paper uses ideas drawn from Michel Foucault, and argues that the Culture System used a particular intellectual and social technology to achieve markets and economic rationality.

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Journal of Global Business Issues