Dear All

Please be advised that this is a major update to the advertised seminar below.

This Seminar has been changed from hybrid of on campus and zoom to just a Zoom 
seminar (only).

The time of the seminar was previously advertised as 5.00pm, this is also 
incorrect. The correct time for the Seminar is 5.30pm.

To confirm:

  *   The Seminar below is now a Zoom only Seminar. Please do not come on 
  *   The Seminar starts 5.30pm.



The University of Sydney
Faculty of Science, History and Philosophy of Science
Rm No 389, Carslaw F07 | The University of Sydney | NSW | 2006
+61 2 9351 4161<>  |<>
9AM TO 430PM

From: Cynthia Kiu on behalf of HPS Admin <>
Sent: Wednesday, March 8, 2023 10:19 AM
To: ( <>
Subject: Reminder: HPS Research Seminar, Monday 13, March 2023 at 5pm

School of History and Philosophy of Science


[The University of Sydney]



8 March 2023


Maurits Bastiaan Meerwijk, Leiden University

Dates: Monday, 13/3/2023

Time: 5:30 pm

Venue: F23, Michael Spence Building, Level 5, Room 501
How to register: Free, no registration required

Zoom Link:<>

Abstract: In his first book, Meerwijk explores the Dutch colonial response to 
an outbreak of plague in Java that began in 1911. Drawing on a large archive 
that includes hundreds of photographs, the book traces the origins and 
development of one of the most invasive, sustained, and best-advertised health 
interventions of the Dutch colonial period in Indonesia: home improvement. 
Eager to combat the disease, Dutch health officials would integrate the 
traditional bamboo houses of the Javanese into plague’s “rat-flea-man” 
transmission scheme and embarked on a tremendous project to break this chain. 
Over the next thirty years, 1.6 million houses were renovated or rebuilt across 
Java in an attempt to build out the rat, millions more were subjected to 
periodic inspection, and countless Javanese were exposed to health messaging 
that sought to “rat-proof” their practices and beliefs along with their houses. 
Plague control, in short, facilitated an unprecedented expansion of Dutch 
oversight, control, and cultural influence in rural Java. The transformation of 
the built and natural environment was extensively documented in photographs and 
broadcast to diverse audiences as evidence of the “ethical” nature of Dutch 
colonial rule. These outcomes of plague control proved so advantageous that 
home improvement would persist even when more efficient alternatives to plague 
control such as inoculation became available and new pathogenic threats 
resulting from the scheme emerged.

Bio: Maurits Meerwijk is a scientific secretary at the Health Council of the 
Netherlands as well as a postdoctoral researcher at the Institute for History, 
University of Leiden. In Leiden, he works on a new project exploring the 
development of public health education by means of visual materials in early 
twentieth-century Southeast Asia.



[The University of Sydney]

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