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12 - Technology and innovation within expanding webs of exchange

from Part III - Growing interactions

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 May 2015

Benjamin Z. Kedar
Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Merry E. Wiesner-Hanks
University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee
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This chapter addresses some major issues and methodological concerns emerging from the socio-historical view of technology and innovation. It discusses constitutive factors of cultural frameworks of innovation evident on the global stage, transmission processes, and the relation between ruling powers and technology. Historical studies of technologies, exchange, and innovation in the Middle Millennium have largely focused on the Eurasian continent, where empires, cultures, and individuals created oscillating spheres of influence and varying contact zones. In general, scribal cultures discuss technical abilities as part of evaluations of human work or artisanal expertise in comparison with various forms of scholarship. For a long time, historians of technology equated transmission processes with the rise of European power at the end of the sixteenth century. Changes in environmental circumstances or human migration into areas that required different equipment were at least as important as political and institutional frameworks in stimulating technological innovation.
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2015

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