Scientific Cooperation in the Age of UNESCO: Mapping Southeast Asian Plants and Plant Scientists at the End of Empire
The paper focuses in particular on the origin and development of the Flora Malesiana, a project intended to create an exhaustive taxonomy of the Southeast Asian flora. This taxonomic project, initially conceived of in imperial terms by the Dutch colonial botanist K. van Steenis, was only funded after the collapse of the Netherlands East Indies in the late 1940s. The papers analyzes the development of this project in the 1940s and early 1950s, explaining why after 1945 it attracted Dutch colonial, then Indonesian, and finally international support. It involved both colonial scientists and institutions, while enrolling new supporters, including the young Indonesian scientists. Although not a direct beneficiary of UNESCO support, its purpose fit perfectly into the ethos of universal knowledge created by international collaboration. UNESCO provided a language for creating new collaborations, which bridged imperial and post-colonial institutions and scientists.
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