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Technology transfer and cultural exchange: Western scientists and engineers encounter late Tokugawa and Meiji Japan

By G. Gooday and M. Low


[FIRST PARAGRAPH] \ud During the last decade of the nineteenth century, the Engineer was only one of many British and American publications that took an avid interest in the rapid rise of Japan to the status of a fully industrialized imperial power on a par with major European nations. In December 1897 this journal published a photographic montage of "Pioneers of Modem Engineering Education in Japan" (Figure I), showing a selection of the Japanese and Western teachers who had worked to bring about this singular transformation.' The predominance of Japanese figures in this representation is highly significant: it is an acknowledgment by British observers that the industrialization of Japan-the "Britain of the East"-was not a feat accomplished solely by Western experts who transferred their science and technology to passive Japanese recipients. Yet in focusing primarily on native teachers active in Japan after 1880, this image excludes several of the very foreigners who had trained this indigenous workforce in the preceding decade. Rather than attempting to assess the careers of each of the many international experts involved in Western encounters with Japan before and after the Meiji restoration in 1868, we will focus on disaggregating the highly individualized responses of just some of the Englishspeaking characters. In documenting their diverse encounters with Japanese people and technologies, we will look at the complex phenomena of cultural exchange in which they participated, not always without chauvinism or resistance

Publisher: University of Chicago Press
Year: 1998
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