The article explores the sociopolitical history of electrification in Bali in the so-called New Order period of Indonesia (1966–98). It discusses the intertwining factors that drove electrification on the island to move more quickly than in other areas in Indonesia, culminating in the electrification of all Bali's villages in 1995. Bali's tourism industry, the New Order's village electrification program, the construction a national television network, and Bali's selection as a venue of many important regional and international meetings in Indonesia all contributed to the rapid growth rate of electrification on the island. Underlying all these factors was the New Order regime's construction and projection to the world of Indonesia's identity as a rapidly modernizing nation with a part to play on the global stage. The New Order government thus poured a huge amount of resources into electrifying the island. Although the Balinese welcomed the attention and resources provided by the Suharto government to develop Bali, they wanted to ensure this effort was not merely to use the island to promote Indonesia's image overseas. Rather, they wanted development there to be more meaningful than it was and to improve people's welfare. Their criticisms shared the same sentiments of some critiques of New Order Indonesia's development efforts in general.
Lighting “Paradise”: A Sociopolitical History of Electrification in Bali
Anto Mohsin is assistant professor in residence in the Liberal Arts Program of Northwestern University in Qatar (NU-Q). He received his PhD in science and technology studies from Cornell University. Prior to joining NU-Q, he held a Henry Luce postdoctoral fellowship in Asian environmental studies at Hobart and William Smith Colleges. His teaching and research interests include STS and Southeast Asian studies.
Anto Mohsin; Lighting “Paradise”: A Sociopolitical History of Electrification in Bali. East Asian Science, Technology and Society 1 March 2017; 11 (1): 9–34. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/18752160-3489218
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