University of Wisconsin Press colophon



University of Wisconsin Madison crest that links to main university site

Association of University Presses member logo that links to main AUPresses site



Catalog Archive / Fall 2023

Electrifying Indonesia
Technology and Social Justice in National Development

New Perspectives in Southeast Asian Studies
Alfred W. McCoy, Ian G. Baird, Katherine A. Bowie, and Anne Ruth Hansen, Series Editors

“A groundbreaking study of electrification as nation building in postcolonial Indonesia. Mohsin sheds light on how electrification became bound up with negotiations about the meanings of social justice and the hopes of postcolonial Indonesian society. This book is a welcome addition to the growing STS literature on Southeast Asia.”
—Suzanne Moon, author of Technology in Southeast Asian History

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. The entanglement of these two ideologies “nation-building and equity” shaped how electrification was carried out, including how the state chose the technologies it did. Private companies and electric cooperatives vied with the hegemonic state power company to participate in a monumental undertaking that would transform daily life for all Indonesians, especially rural citizens.

In this innovative volume, Anto Mohsin brings Indonesian studies together with science and technology studies to understand a crucial period in modern Indonesian history. He shows that attempts to illuminate the country were inseparable from the effort to maintain the new nation-state, chart its path to independence, and legitimize ruling regimes. In exchange for an often dramatically improved standard of living, people gave their votes, and their acquiescence, to the ruling government.


Anto Mohsin. Anto Mohsin is an assistant professor in residence in the liberal arts program at Northwestern University in Qatar and an affiliated faculty member of Northwestern University’s Science in Human Culture program in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences.




“A chronicle of politics and technology in Southeast Asia’s largest country. Mohsin presents an electrifying story of how the large archipelago of Indonesia became fully connected by power grids under Suharto’s authoritarian leadership. This is a rare study that makes a great scholarly contribution both to STS and Asian studies.”
—Sulfikar Amir, author of The Technological State in Indonesia: The Co-constitution of High Technology and Authoritarian Politics



Download Cover: color | b/w

Download Author Photo: color | b/w

Request Review Copy

Request Exam Copy


Table of Contents


List of Illustrations
List of Abbreviations

1 Late Colonial and Early Postcolonial Electrification
2 The New Order’s Patrimonial Technopolitics
3 The Electric Bureaucracy
4 Java-Centrism and the Two Grid Systems
5 Social Knowledge of Rural Life and Energy Uses
6 Rural Electric Cooperatives



Of Related Interest


Systemic Silencing
Activism, Memory, and Sexual Violence in Indonesia
Katharine McGregor


Development in Spirit
Religious Transformation and Everyday Politics in Vietnam’s Highlands
Seb Rumsby

Electrifying Indonesia: a grayscale photo of interconnecting pipes and wires. The title text is written in bold yellow font mimicing a neon light sign.

Larger images

December 2023
270 pp. 6 x 9
17 b/w photos

Book icon
Cloth $79.95 S
ISBN 9780299345402
Shopping cart ADD TO CART
Review Cart