Michael Adas (History, Rutgers)
Transfer Proscribed, Interrupted, Disrupted and Fractured: Metropole Technological Dominance and Colonial Response in the Industrial Age
Because dominance and subordination are central, relations and exchanges between European metropoles and their overseas colonies--very often including colonial officials and European setters within them--were often strained and contested. Technological transfers were invariably linked to European control over and extraction from colonial possessions, and as a result they were frequently flashpoints of tension and at times open conflict in the history of interaction and exchange. Drawing on case examples from different colonial locales from the early nineteenth century to the First World War, I will explore the ways in which transfers of technology--broadly defined to include the ideas and organization which framed material artifacts--were systematically proscribed, selectively funneled, or interrupted by imperial writ backed by the surveillance and policing of potential agents of delivery and policies enforced by colonial officials. I will also consider the ways in which transfers were blocked, disrupted or fractured due to resistance on the part of colonized peoples, in situations where the colonized themselves sought to protest proscriptions or limits on technological exchange, and in moments of international crises which opened up possibilities of transfers hitherto proscribed or prohibited.