Technology in World Civilization, revised and expanded edition
A Thousand-Year History
The new edition of a milestone work on the global history of technology.
This milestone history of technology, first published in 1990 and now revised and expanded in light of recent research, 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.
“A marvelous, sweeping chronological history of the world as a technological conversation among its cultural centers, which the authors ground in the careful analysis of technical details and everyday activities. Indispensable.”
Barbara Hahn, author of Technology in the Industrial Revolution
“This remarkably inclusive history defies easy classification and offers as much to entrepreneurs and ethicists as it does to devotees of history.”
Kathryn A. Neeley, Department of Engineering and Society, University of Virginia