Three recent collections of scholarship on science and technology in China strongly suggest that the Needham paradigm can be put to rest in more than one way. The often-stated question, first investigated by Joseph Needham, wonders why China, with a long tradition of scientific practices, did not develop “modern” science. According to Needham, it was Chinese traditional bureaucracy and feudalism that hindered a “true” development of modern science as seen in Europe. Although this statement is easily critiqued as teleological and Eurocentric, it has shaped much of the writing on Chinese science and technology in the past decades. Modern science, if it came to China, had to be imposed or adopted. The Chinese role in modern science could only be passive. The Needham model, informed by the trajectory of modern Western science, also imposes an anachronistic interpretation of science and technology...

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