The Tentacles of Progress: Technology Transfer in the Age of Imperialism, 1850-1940

The Tentacles of Progress: Technology Transfer in the Age of Imperialism, 1850-1940

The Tentacles of Progress: Technology Transfer in the Age of Imperialism, 1850-1940

The Tentacles of Progress: Technology Transfer in the Age of Imperialism, 1850-1940

Synopsis

In this trenchant examination of a paradox of colonial rule, Daniel Headrick, author of the widely acclaimed Tools of Empire, shows how the massive transfers of technology--including equipment, techniques, and experts--from the European imperial powers to their colonies in Asia and Africa led not to industrialization but to underdevelopment. He argues that colonial rulers dissociated the geographic transfer of technology from its cultural diffusion by allowing only Europeans access to technical educations and discouraging non-European entrepreneurs. Examining the most important technologies--shipping and railways, telegraphs and wireless, urban water supply and sewage disposal, economic botany and plantation agriculture, irrigation, and mining and metallurgy--Headrick provides a new perspective on colonial economic history and reopens the debate on the roots of Asian and African underdevelopment.

Excerpt

Many people contributed to this book, though they may not have known it at the time. I wish to thank them all.

My thanks go first to the many archivists and librarians without whom this book would not exist, especially those at the following institutions: in Chicago, the libraries of the University of Chicago and Roosevelt University; in France, the Bibliothèque Nationale, the Archives Nationales and its Section Outre-Mer, the Bibliothèque d'Afrique et d'Outre-Mer, the Institut de Recherches Agronomiques Tropicales, and the Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle; and in Britain the India Office Records and Library, the British Library, and the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew.

I also owe a great debt to the many people who gave me their support and encouragement, and much valuable information, among them Margaret Anderson, André Angladette, Ralph Austen, Georges Ballard, Bertrand de Fontgalland, Alexander de Grand, Fritz Lehmann, William McCullam, William H. McNeill, Phyllis Martin, David Miller, Joel Mokyr, David Northrup, the late Derek de Solla Price, Joel Putois, Theodore W. Schultz, and Gary Wolfe.

I also wish to thank my editors at Oxford University Press, Nancy Lane, Rosalie West, and Joan Bossert.

And finally I wish to express my gratitude to the National Endowment for the Humanities, whose generous financial support gave me the time to write this book.

This book is dedicated to Cecil and the memory of Edith, and to Sol and Gertrude.

Chicago D.R.H. October 1986 . . .

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