Arnold Pacey and Francesca BrayDec 10, 2021
Technology in World Civilization, Revised and Expanded Edition
A Thousand-Year History (Revised and Expanded Edition)
MIT Press 2021
Technology in World Civilization represents a milestone history of technology. First published in 1990 and now revised and expanded in light of recent research, the book broke new ground by taking a global view, avoiding the conventional Eurocentric perspective and placing the development of technology squarely in the context of a “world civilization.” Case studies include “technological dialogues” between China and West Asia in the eleventh century, medieval African states and the Islamic world, and the United States and Japan post-1950. It examines railway empires through the examples of Russia and Japan and explores current synergies of innovation in energy supply and smartphone technology through African cases.
The book uses the term “technological dialogue” to challenge the top-down concept of “technology transfer,” showing instead that technologies are typically modified to fit local needs and conditions, often triggering further innovation. The authors trace these encounters and exchanges over a thousand years, examining changes in such technologies as agriculture, firearms, printing, electricity, and railroads. A new chapter brings the narrative into the twenty-first century, discussing technological developments including petrochemicals, aerospace, and digitalization from often unexpected global viewpoints and asking what new kind of industrial revolution is needed to meet the challenges of the Anthropocene.
Hussein Mohsen is a PhD/MA Candidate in Computational Biology and Bioinformatics/History of Science and Medicine at Yale University. His research interests include machine learning, cancer genomics, and the history of human genetics. For more about his work, visit http://www.husseinmohsen.com.