Technology and the Making of the Netherlands
The Age of Contested Modernization, 1890-1970
640 pp., 6 x 9 in,
- Published: January 15, 2010
- Publisher: The MIT Press
An account of the trajectory of modernization through technology in the Netherlands.
This study offers both an account of twentieth-century technology in the Netherlands and a view of Dutch history through the lens of technology. It describes the trajectory of modernization through technology in certain characteristically Dutch contexts—including the omnipresence of water, the pervasiveness of urbanization coupled with a high-tech agricultural sector, and the legacy of colonialism—but at the same time makes it clear that Dutch struggles over technology choices, infrastructure development, mass production, and the role of government are comparable to the experience of any Western industrialized country.
The book, which synthesizes findings originally presented in a series of seven volumes published in the Netherlands, uses the idea of contested modernization as an overarching concept through which to understand Dutch technological history. The modernizers of Dutch society—including engineers, management consultants, architects, and others—did not always agree on how to modernize; moreover, the unruliness of specific practices often derailed or redirected implementation. Tensions between top-down and bottom-up modernization, and between scale-enlargement and more flexible arrangements of mutual coordination and cooperation shaped Dutch history.
The chapters examine such topics as attempts to create an industrial nation, materially connected through infrastructure; the conflicts that came with the arrival of mass production and the emergence of a consumer society; and land-use planning in a low-lying country.
In this thoughtful and synthetic work, contested modernization yields a fresh interpretation of twentieth century Dutch history. Changes in technology, consumption, war, the nation state, colonialism—even the efforts of activist Dutch housewives—are clearly in view. This is an account alive to the nuances of the distinctive Dutch experience with modernity.
Thomas J. Misa, Charles Babbage Institute, University of Minnesota, co-editor of Urban Machinery
This is a splendid book, providing a fascinating analysis of the history of modern Netherlands through the lens of technology. Filled with carefully chosen and beautifully illustrated images, Technology and the Making of the Netherlands forms an integral contribution to STS. Anyone interested in technology and history will find something to learn within these pages.
Arne Kaijser, Professor of History of Technology, Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, and President of the Society for History of Technology (2009-2010)