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

Daniel R. Headrick

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Book Description

March 10, 1988 0195051157 978-0195051155 0
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.

Editorial Reviews


"Headrick is a mster of his technical information and this book is valualbe as a convenient recorfd of the extension overseas of Western shipping, railways, telecommunications, urban utilities, irrigation, botany, mining, metallurgy and education."EHR

"Headrick's wide reading of the secondary literatures is evident in his accounts of the global shipping industry and of Hong Kong's water supply and sanitation, in his reading of hydraulic imperialism in Egypt, in his discussion of technical education in West Africa and in his commentary on economic botany and the tropical plantations of Empire....This is a very valuable book indeed. Some of the most important structures of the global formation between 1850--1940 are very clearly set before us and their interconnections rightly emphasized."--Journal of Historical Geography

"An impressive work of synthesis utilizing materials from British, French, German, and Dutch sources....Anyone interested in technology transfer and imperialism will have to consult this book."--David J. Jeremy, Manchester Polytechnic (journal not indicated)

"In a light, analytical narrative, Headrick has continued the project begun with his (1981) The Tools of Empire....A useful and inexpensive text."--World Development

"[A] careful synthesis of a wide range of material....Specialists on the history of imperialism will certainly be grateful to Headrick for enabling them to deal more confidently with themes which have often been treated, in semi-ignorance, in a very general way."--International Journal of African Historical Studies

"Well conceived and impressively researched....Has significantly redrawn the lines that will be followed in the continuing general debate on the politics as well as the economics of empire."--The Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History

"A most fascinating and useful sequel to Daniel Headrick's previous book, Tools of Empire....Not only will Tentacles of Progress alter the way historians look at change in tropical economies over the past one hundred years, but it will also give important guidance to historians of industrial economies by showing where to look for what sort of impact particular new technologies might have."--Business History Review

"Very well written, surprisingly detailed, and quite useful....An excellent overview of the subject....Headrick's study will make a significant addition to the reading list for courses on the historical aspects of economic development, and, incidentally, should also improve the quality of the lectures in many of those same courses."--Journal of Economic Literature

"Headrick's thesis has been advanced many times in the past, but few scholars have brought together such wide-ranging and diverse materials to support it. In consequence, it is a book well worth reading."--American Historical Review

"[An] interesting and easy-to-read exploration of the 'technological context' of the final century of European rule in the tropical lands of Africa and Asia....[Headrick] has given us a stimulating book of mature and thoughtful scholarship."--Fritz Lehmann, Dalhousie University --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

Daniel R. Headrick is at Roosevelt University, Chicago. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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