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...
Zhongguoshi Xinlun: Keji Yu Zhongguo Shehui Fence 中國史新論:科技與中國社會分冊 [New Perspectives on Chinese History: Science, Technology, and Chinese Society] Mr. Science and Chairman Mao's Cultural Revolution: Science and Technology in Modern China Science and Technology in Modern China, 1880s–1940s
Hsiao-pei Yen is with the Institute of Modern History, Academia Sinica. She earned her PhD in history from Harvard University in 2012. Her research focuses on the relations between science and nationalism in modern China. Her work has appeared in the Journal of the History of Biology, the journal History of Science, and edited volumes. She is working on a manuscript that examines the development and the politics of dinosaurology in twentieth-century China.
Hsiao-pei Yen; Zhongguoshi Xinlun: Keji Yu Zhongguo Shehui Fence 中國史新論:科技與中國社會分冊 [New Perspectives on Chinese History: Science, Technology, and Chinese Society] Mr. Science and Chairman Mao's Cultural Revolution: Science and Technology in Modern China Science and Technology in Modern China, 1880s–1940s. East Asian Science, Technology and Society 1 June 2017; 11 (2): 285–292. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/18752160-3606360
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