Naam H Maat

OmschrijvingUniversitair hoofddocent
OrganisatieDepartement Maatschappijwetenschappen
OrganisatieeenheidKennis, Technologie and Innovatie
Telefoon+31 317 484 828
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BezoekadresHollandseweg 1
PostadresPostbus 8130
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With a background in Science and Technology Studies, and the History of Technology, my work focuses on social patterns and institutional arrangements emerging from practices of growing food and other agricultural products. My interest extends to other practices, for example dealing with health threats, climate change and biodiversity, and how this results in socio-technical change in rural communities, past and present.

Earlier work focused on the emergence of agricultural science in (Dutch) colonial contexts, genetic variation in rice fields of African farmers, and on-farm applications of the System of Rice Intensification in India. I am co-editor of a volume about local subversions to colonial cultures imposing global commodification (see the link on the publications page). Recent work looks into the practices of growing food crops by (former) enslaved African workers, Maroons and (former) indentured Asian workers in Suriname and similar plantation contexts. 

I enjoy supporting students in their (BSc-/MSc-) thesis or PhD project and welcome new studies on related topics dealing with co-production of social orders, science, expertise and skilled work. 

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Research projects

  1. Commodities and anti-commodities
    Indigenous production as sustainable practice and resistance against agrarian commercial capitalism in Africa, Asia, and the Caribbean

    The introduction of commercial agriculture in colonized regions is generally considered as serving the interests of the colonizers at the cost of local populations, their knowledge and cultural identity. This programme takes a different approach, arguing that changes triggered by colonial introductions of commercial agriculture (‘commodity’) included forms of resistance against and creative responses to those changes that led to specific ‘indigenous’ forms of production (anti-commodity). By investigating and bringing together unexplored expressions and various examples of anti-commodity practices, the programme intends to shed new light on the impact of commercial agriculture in the colonial era and how it has affected agricultural changes in developing nations today.

    The programme is funded by the Humanities council of the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO-GW) and is a collobarative effort between the TAD group and the Ferguson Centre for African and Asian Studies, The Open University, UK

  2. The System of Rice Intensification as a socio-technical movement

    The System of Rice Intensification (SRI) is an approach to rice cultivation that is claimed to be more productive and more sustainable than conventional methods. Although these claims have been questioned or dismissed by many rice scientists, SRI has spread rapidly among farmers. Its spread could be seen as surprising, since efforts to promote scientifically validated technologies and recommended practices often have limited impacts on farmers’ behaviour. Yet, the adoption of new rice cultivation practices by small and marginal farmers may have important implications for food security, poverty and livelihoods. This proposed integrated programme seeks to understand the social processes, institutional mechanisms, economic factors and technical considerations that have led to SRI’s apparent success in social, institutional and technical terms. The programme thus aims to generate new insights into processes of grassroots innovation and technical change in developing-country agriculture, leading to lessons for agricultural policy, scientific research and extension practice.

    The programme is funded by the Global Development council of the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO-WOTRO) and is a collaborative effort between the TAD group, the Development Economics Group (WU), the Communication and Innovation Studies Group (WU) and the Xavier Institute of Management, Bhubaneswar (India).



My teaching is mainly within the programmes International Development (BIN, MID) and Development & Rural Innovation (MDR). I co-teach optional courses on embodiment, migration and a graduate course on science for society. Thesis supervision (undergraduate and graduate) covers a range of topics, mostly looking at user perspectives, grassroots innovations, local creativity and skill-based technologies.

  • CPT-11806 - Technology, Development and Natural Resources
  • CPT-21304 - Introduction to Technology, Agro-ecology and Development M
  • CPT-22806 - Innovation and Transformation
  • CPT-36806 - Critical Reflection on Research in International Development Practice
  • CPT-55104 - Embodiment, Food & Environment
  • CPT-56806 - Embodiment, Food & Environment
  • CPT-80824 - MSc Thesis Knowledge, Technology and Innovation
  • YSS-60806 - Cutting Edge Issues in Development and Rural Innovation
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