Part One: Institutions and Technology of Exploration, Maritime Domination and Conquest
The Socio-Political Effects of the Diffusion of Firearms in the Middle
Guns spread within the Ottoman Empire after 1550 as state-enforced gun
controls became less effective and the demand for soldiers -- generally
landless peasants -- increased with increasing external threats. The Ottomans
sold guns to their trading partners in Asia and inspired the purchase of
guns in their enemies (Iran and Egypt). Government-supported gun-making
technology was centered on large artillery rather than musket production,
but warfare and the change in social strata brought about by warfare came
through the gun trade. The Ottomans became the conduit of change
to the Middle East.
* (corrective) Western Arms in Maritime Asia in the Early Phases
Asians were able to contain the first wave of Portuguese and Dutch military-trade
incursions, but not the second wave of British imperialism. Marshall
argues that by the end of the 18th century Europeans possessed better weapons,
military tactics, corporate strategies and standards of professional seamanship.
So, too, a greater "tenacity of purpose" was held by Europeans, but
for at least 150 years previously trade had to proceed without clear military
superiority on one side or the other. From 1500-1750 Portuguese
and Dutch held their positions in Asia precariously; after 1750 native
standing armies were recruited. In small firearms and cannons their
Muslin and Arab opposers, at least, were just as well equipped and trained
as they were.
The Malacca Fort, commanding the Malacca Straits and a threat to all
ships passing through, existed from 1512 - 1807, and embodied issues of
global power-struggles, trade, and technology in the 16th-19th centuries.
Despite a change in owners (Portuguese, Dutch and English) Malacca
Fort was continuously in need of repair and reconfiguration. In the
trade-off between technology (a pentagonal shape was needed to eliminate
dead firing space) and human resources (soldier salaries), bureaucrats
of all three nations were bombarded by the Fort's governors and engineers
with plan after plan for improvement. When the British, who moved
their headquarters to Penang, finally dismantled the Fort, it had to been
blown up -- in fact, pieces were blown up and across the river, so
much gunpowder had to be used. Malacca Fort had been improved to
the point of impregnability, and therefore could not be left behind as
The Impact of Firearms on Japanese Warfare, 1543-98
Delmer M. Brown
By 1556 there were more than 300,000 guns in Japan and a series of schools
and shops for gunsmiths; by 1582 about one-third of the soldiers in any
warlord's army had guns. Cannons were developed at the same time
and pace; therefore the standard military tactics and rank-orders changed
according to the new dangers and requirements of war. Ships and castles
were likewise adapted and tested in battle against the Koreans and Chinese.
Making a comparison of Japanese with Chinese and Korean developments is
a valuable effort in the general work of understanding Asian development.
The Japanese, according to Brown, seemed uneven in their application, as
often belated as they were innovative in their use of technology.
Firearms and Warfare on the Gold and Slave Coasts from the Sixteenth
to the Nineteenth Centuries
R. A. Kea
Firearms arrived in Benin after 1450. The Dutch, Portuguese and English, to maintain positions for trade, supplied the Gold and Slave Coasts with guns; however, the trade patterns were distinct: the Dutch tended to trade with allies, and the English with all who would. Guns traveled slowly inland and became a semi-standard part of warlord armies. Preferences for different models and gun functions became associated with different tribal groups. Demand for gunpowder and specific kinds of guns fluctuated, but quality work was always desired, thought not always delivered. Consequently, Africans -- particularly the Wydah and Assini -- became adept at repairing faulty weapons, and in some cases, better at re-tempering locks than Europeans. However, no significant indigenous gun production ever arose.
Part Two: Technology Transfer and Intercivilizational Exchange and Economic Change
Technological Change, Slavery and the Slave Trade
H. A. Gemery and J. S. Hogendorn
Although many scholars argue that the presence of slaves limits the need for technological change, slavery itself requires some technological support. These authors argue that bigger ships for transport; better food which created more excess African laborers; improved guns and horses for raiding and trading; more firmly established trade and travel networks; and new systems for money and credit between Africans and Europeans all supported the slave trade. The process of sugar production, which slavery supported, did not change, because there was no lack of manpower and thus no pressure to change; however, the supporting systems of slavery -- slave gathering, merchandizing and transport -- all improved. A parallel set of technologies, one static and one dynamic, reinforced each other (172).
Technology and Society: The Impact of Gold Mining on the Institution
of Slavery in Portuguese America
A.J. R. Russell-Wood
Use of slaves in mining had specific effects on early Brazilian society. First, because panning rivers and streams was cold, dangerous and necessarily independent work, slaves tended to be physically strong adults who had an unusual degree of freedom. Quilombos, escaped slave communities, throve in Brazil. Second, the preference for using men as slaves, and for leaving Portuguese families at home, ensured a large mixed-race population. For women, prostitution was a way to earn money, but children were, of course, a hindrance, and consequently many orphans came upon the care of the newly formed state (and church). Luso-African relations in mines were quite different from that on plantations: at once harsher and less restrictive. Social relations were -- of course --exploitative of women, and yet a high proportion gained their freedom with their children. Skilled Benin blacksmiths, captured and sold as slaves, transferred valuable technological knowledge of smelting to the new world and also tended to gain their freedom.
The Early Sugar Industrry in Espanola
The sugar industry in Espanola shaped a peculiar society around it.
Sugar became the dominant industry when wealthy worried gold miners saw
an opportunity to diversify and chose to invest in a newly-arrived technologically-
advanced sugar mill. Encouraged by the Jeronymite fathers who briefly
ruled, and also encouraged by Charles I via loans to mill-builders,
the colony turned from gold to sugar. Mill owners became wealthy
rulers of plantations, and aristocrats in all but title, while the town
and plantation population grew poor, and slaves were added to their number.
The demands of the sugar industry, like the mining industry, suggested
and guided social relations: a great deal of capital was needed to
start but a great deal was returned, so a wealthy aristocratic elite was
created. The concentration of poor labor in towns around the mills
was set outside of the original administrative structure; there were
no judges, no councils, no justice but the mill owner himself. These
two factors encouraged a monoculture plantation economy and a social aristocracy
subject to sugar prices and production.
* (structure of argument) Colonial Silver Mining: Mexico and Peru
D.A. Brading and Harry E. Cross
Speaking of Mexican mining, Brading and Cross have provided a compendium of causes and relations that summarize their overall thesis. "The abundant or adequate supply of mercury, labor and ore deposits formed without doubt, indispensable prerequisites of the eighteenth-century boom, but it required the union of technology, capital and government policy with the entrepreneurial talent to engineer it." They continue "[t]he great shafts and adits of the period represented a great advance in the technical expertise, and sprang from extensive capital investment. Bourbon fiscal policy, more enlightened than its Hapsburg equivalent, halved the price of mercury and granted individual tax exemptions for renovations of high risk or cost. Finally the sheer skill and enterprise of such men as Jose de la Borda and the Count of Regla should not be overlooked: they acted as the pacemakers of the industry. The Mexican boom, especially after 1770, sprang from as complex a group of elements as the Toledan achievement of the 1570s." The comparison between Mexican and Peruvian mining efforts demonstrates that government policy alone could not revive an industry. After the first boom, apparently without capital investment and the entrepreneurial talent to manage the more difficult mining efforts, and supported by unproductive but cheap mita labor, Peruvian mine production lagged behind Mexican production.
Evolution of the Textile Industry of Puebla 1544-1845
The textile industry in Puebla, by contrast to the European industry, was nurtured at first by large Church patronage. Silk production began and throve for a century until Oriental silk competition and crown export regulations ended the industry; woolens and cottons followed, but both were subject to guild regulations and fluctuating demands. Slave labor in the textile industry persisted, despite crown regulation against it. High quality cotton, a local specialty, and produced in a decentralized fashion, was concentrated, cheapened, and destroyed. Puebla and Mexico City industries saw the same development, depression and recovery as did the rest of Europe. New Spain suffered or flourished under the policies of Spain. Capital concentration, and capitalist production, as exemplified by cotton, developed in the new world.
Chinese Silk Manufacture in Jean-Baptise Du Halde, Description
... de la Chine (1735)
Theodore Nicholas Foss
A lively interest in Chinese technology is captured in Jean Baptise
Du Halde's encyclopedic Description ... de la Chine (1735). Chinese
texts were translated by Jesuit father Dentrecolles and sent back to the
Paris-based du Halde, who compiled, edited and published them . The
origins of the illustrations, while interesting in itself, demonstrates
the flow of technological knowledge East to West. Hsu Kuang-chi's
work, Neng Cheng Chuan Shu used illustrations first found in a 1210 Sung
dynasty work. Hsu's illustrations were then edited by Ming painter
and patriot Chen Tzu-tung for publication, and used again by Chiao Ping-cheng,
in the employ of the Astronomy Board and also in contact with the Jesuits.
Foss gives a long lineage of the illustrations, and also a host of significant
scholars who were involved in the writing and re-publishing of the Chinese
texts, but he focuses on those scholars who could or would have had contacts
with the Jesuits. Of those, Hsu was a highly-ranked convert to Christianity,
and his work is the obvious source for the illustrations. In the
French edition, figures and faces were made to look more European, background
details were dropped, and the silk spinning machinery itself emphasized.
France's silk industry, devastated by the loss of the Hugenots, apparently
received the Chinese information with keen interest.
Part Three: Melding and Competition of European and Indigenous Technologies and Modes of Production
Iron is Iron 'Til it is Rust: Trade and Ecology in the Decline
of West African Iron Smelting
Candice L. Goucher
Goucher argues that "deforestation produced by environmental exploitation (particularly reliance on charcoal fuels) and climatic change must be taken in to consideration in any explanation of the decline of iron industries, and that the trade-impact model must be substantially modified." There is a clear ecological impact and apparent evidence for human-created savannas. Then what about the impact of trade? Iron trade already existed, and African iron was best suited to its users. European steel, by contrast, required different skills and their iron was not always cheaper or purer. However, over-use of land and war with Europeans and within Africa encouraged increasing reliance on European goods. This author emphasized that the efficiency of technological goods is mediated by ecology, local skills, local needs and power relationships in land and trade.
* (structure of argument) Decline or Survival? Iron Production
in West Africa from the Seventeenth to the Twentieth Centuries
L. M. Pole
This article is a response to Goucher, adding in the factors of "labor input, price, ritual value of local iron, and the social organization of iron-working groups." The author has done field work in Ghana to try to determine among other things, the man-hours required to produce a bloom of iron, transportation costs as a factor in trade, the kind of iron used for various tools, the social position of blacksmiths, the division of labor between blacksmiths and smelters, and overall resistance to change in each of these areas. Pole argues that European iron was not truly competitive until the end of the nineteenth century, until local smelting died out, and transportation costs dropped. She says "users comprise the whole community;" therefore demand for locally smelted-iron for specifically African purposes obtained "over many decades." (318)
* (example) From Calpixqui to Corregidor: Appropriation
of Women's Cotton Textile Production in Early Colonial Mexico.
Margaret A. Villanueva
Under the Aztecs, women's surplus domestic labor created medium-sized
pieces of cloth which were collected as tribute. These cloths served
simultaneously as articles of luxury, tribute and exchange. This
household production system was given over to the Spanish conquerors, and
redeployed by them for the production of larger pieces of basic cloth for
miners and laborers. What had been a part-time occupation became
more-or-less slavery as women, still at home, were put to heavy and long
work at looms. Women who could sold their work, but most had to work
with the tools they were provided, and return the goods to Spanish overseers.
The domestic structure of the Aztec empire was retained and rationalized
into Spanish colonial production; organized and monitored, these little
centers of production fed into the larger church and colonial demands.
The Structure of Indian Textile Industry in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth
K. N. Chaudhuri
There were four great industrial regions for export cloth production in India: Punjab, Gujarat, the Coromandel coast, and Bengal. Weavers in Bengal, for instance, expanded their work to trade with England, had lower water transport costs, and also had an abundance of food in the area, so keeping wages low. There were definite differences in production, customers and trade routes between North and South, and these differences motivated the East India company to consider consolidating the weavers; however, changing locale meant changing the conditions of production, and that was a perilous venture only overcome by the necessities of war or strong economic inducements to move. There was a vertical link between marketing and industrial production: weavers tended to work for intermediaries, and were thus protected somewhat from the pressure of imperialistic Europeans. Merchants in India sunk most of their gains into personal estates, and kept weaver's wages low. So a closer examination of Indian weavers shows a group of skilled skinny peripatetic tough-minded bargainers pleading poverty at every turn, demanding advance pay for their work, and refusing to deliver if changes were requested. In some senses, a group with nothing to lose, and possessing a strongly desired set of skills, has the upper hand. In another way, this group was vulnerable to war, to famine, and to increases in food prices. Eventually, the combination of war and social breakdown in India, with existing export patterns, and new European technology, undercut Indian laborers.
China and Western Technology in the Late Eighteenth Century
Waley-Cohen argues that the Chinese public indifference to Western technology
was a careful political posture used to reinforce an internally threatened
Q'ing Dynasty. Western contempt was equally the product of an imperialist
policy. In fact, Western technology, especially that dedicated to
warfare, was used, needed and absorbed via the Jesuits until the suppression
of their order. On the Western side, Waley-Cohen suggests, there
was a rejection of the Chinese class-bound social order which, in England,
was giving way to a society that prospered through rationalization of production
and industrialization. Self-rule, she suggests, is a crucial part of Chinese
psychology and any attempt to gain control was and will continue to be
met with resistance.
In Part One the Middle East, Japanese and Gold Coast articles are very similar, in suggesting that guns brought military change, social restructuring, and new trading and raiding patterns. Why did some areas develop their own gun-making industries, and others not? None lacked the technological skill -- but perhaps they lacked capital, or social channels for organizing workers and money. Malacca Fort is amusing for the ongoing perpetual argument between engineers and bureaucrats about efficiency in power structures -- an argument so well pursued that it ended in the necessity of blowing large pieces of the fort sky-high. Western Arms in Maritime Asia is intended as a corrective of the view that Europeans naturally overwhelmed the "natives."
Part Two illustrates that technological change can be very uneven, No Darwinian efficiency force operations steadily and evenly to make industries rational -- some aspects are rationalized at the expense of others. Society takes on a peculiar or particular shapes around those efforts, and itself shapes the permissible aspects of technological growth. The Early Sugar Industry and Impact of Gold Mining on the Institution of Slavery in Portuguese America articles both make this point.
Jan Bazant's Textile Industry of Puebla offers what I believe to be the central theme of this collection:
"in spite of the differences between metropolis and colony both reveal the same unity of purpose to which the universal monarchy held. The unity of purpose of crystallized in a certain conception of life in general, dictating the way in which society and the economy should be organized. It us an unity that explains the differences between Spanish-emerged even in industrial organization, for example in the silk industry. While in Lyons this was developing capitalist tendencies, Spain hampered these through hostility to luxury. Thus sumptuary laws became so strict as materially to contribute to the decline of the Spanish silk industry." (275)
In other words, all technology is mediated through a cultural conception of what is good to do and what is good to permit in society.
Part Three asks, directly and implicitly, why there is less change,
or more change, or no change, when cultures collide. Pole argues
for specific needs which are met by specific processes and are hard to
change. Chaudhuri says much the same: it is impossible, and
anomalous, to argue backward from change to necessity. Waley-Cohen
hightlights the difference between a public political response to technology
and the interests and needs of users who may or may not choose to ally
themselves with elites and rulers.