Mutant rice and agricultural modernization in Asia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


By using the genealogy of hybrid rice, Mahsuri, developed in Malaysia by Japanese agronomists in the 1960s, this article tells a story of agricultural modernization in Asia that challenges the US-centered narrative of the Green Revolution. Cross-racial hybrid Mahsuri’s parent is Taichung 65 from colonial Taiwan, and its off-spring is irradiated Mahsuri Mutant. By highlighting the deep connection between colonial development and post-World War II technical assistance, the role of intra-Asia networks in crop improvement programs in Asia, and the agency of postcolonial Asian nations, this article critiques the ironies embedded in the mutant rice and in the concept of development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)360-381
Number of pages22
JournalHistory and Technology
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
An earlier version of this was presented at the ?Political Epistemology III? workshop at Max Planck Institute, History of Science Division, Berlin, Germany in 2017; and at a 2017 History of Science Society panel organized by Edna Su?rez-D?az and Gisela Mateo. I also thank an informal chat with Tatsushi Fujihara in Kyoto that eventually led me to this research.


  • Colombo Plan
  • Green Revolution
  • Hybrid rice
  • Japan
  • Malaysia
  • agricultural modernization
  • colonial development
  • mutation

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