19 October 2017 from 13:00 to 18:00

Plant Science at Bogor Botanical Gardens, 1817-2017

Symposium Managing Alliances

In 2017, the Botanical Gardens in Bogor, Indonesia, celebrate their 200th anniversary. This interdisciplinary symposium examines plant science at the garden in Bogor by asking how changing local and global alliances shaped the study of plants in Indonesia from the early 1800s under Dutch rule to the age of decolonization.


What emerges is a picture of the Garden that constantly had to renew itself. Plant science at the Garden was the product of coordination and competition between different disciplines, institutes, communities and networks in Asia and beyond. However, although Bogor plant science altered over time partly thanks to the dynamics of global and local alliances it built on, there were continuities too.

Plant science and colonialism

Since its establishment in 1817, the Garden formed part of a colonial and imperial bureaucracy which considered knowledge about nature as an extension of the emerging colonial state. In order to provide a fresh view on the Gardens’ entangled past, this interdisciplinary symposium brings together historians and biologists from Europe and the US whose research concern the history of plant science and neigboring disciplines in Bogor and the Indonesian Archipelago.


Andreas Weber (University of Twente)
Robert-Jan Wille (Utrecht University)
Paul Keßler (Hortus Botanicus Leiden)

Symposium programme

13:00-13:10 Opening

13.10-13:50 Andreas Weber, University of Twente
Establishing a Niche: Imperial Horticulture in the Early Nineteenth century Indonesian Archipelago

13:50-14:15 Justin Jansen, Naturalis Biodiversity Center
The bird collections of the Baudin expedition 1800-1804

14:15 -14.45 Coffee break

14:45-15:25 Robert-Jan Wille, Utrecht University
From Chemical Experiments to Biological Development: Changing Repertoires of Technocracy in the Dutch Indies, 1868‐1909

15:25-15:50 Eulàlia Gassó Miracle, Naturalis Biodiversity Center
Hiding the doctor's butterflies in the Bogor Botanical Gardens: the fate of the  J.M.A. van Groenendael collection

15:50-16:10 Coffee Break 

16:10-16:55 Andrew Goss, Augusta University, US
Inventing the Kebun Raya in the New Republic: Scientific Cooperation at the Bogor Botanical Gardens in the Age of Decolonization

16:55-17:10 Robert Jan Wille
Closing remarks

17:10-18:00 Borrel

About the speakers

Andreas Weber, is historian of science at the University of Twente. His research focusses on the history of botany, zoology and chemistry in the Indonesian Archipelago in the first half of the nineteenth century. He is author of a study on Caspar Georg Carl Reinwardt (1773-1854), founder of Bogor Botanical Gardens.

Justin Jansen, is a bird expert and PhD candidate at Naturalis Biodiversity Center. His research focusses historical bird collections brought together in the Indonesian Archipelago and elsewhere.

Robert-Jan Wille, is a historian of science at Utrecht University. His research focusses on the history of plant science at Bogor gardens in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. He is author of a study on the history of plant science in Bogor around 1900.

Eulàlia Gassó Miracle is a biologist and historian of science at Naturalis Biodiversity Center. She is currently working on a PhD on the early years of Naturalis. Moreover, she is involved in disclosing the J.M.A. van Groenendael collection, a unique collection of butterflies from the Indonesian Archipelago.

Andrew Goss, is a historian of science at Augusta University in the US. He is author of the monograph The floracrats: state-sponsored science and the failure of the enlightenment in Indonesia.

NB: The results of the symposium will be published in early 2018 as special issue of peer-reviewed and open access history of science journal Studium.

This symposium is realised with support of: 

  • Hortus botanicus Leiden
  • Making Sense of Illustrated Handwritten Archives (NWO)
  • Leiden Asia Year
  • Descartes Centre, Utrecht
Start date and time
19 October 2017 13:00
End date and time
19 October 2017 18:00
Entrance fee