This thesis will use the tea processing technique in late imperial China as a case study to argue that China was not technologically stagnant, and that Europe was not technologically superior to China until the mid-nineteenth century. The Chinese tea industry experienced technological breakthroughs in tea-processing and preserving techniques during the later imperial period. As soon as we shift our focus away from the machine, look at other aspects of development from a long-term perspective, and transcend the negative Eurocentric view of China, we will see the technological dynamism in late imperial China. This thesis seeks to present China’s technological contribution to the world within a global and comparative historical framework, by arguing that modern European technological and scientific progress was neither unique nor exclusively home-grown, but attributable to the global diffusion of knowledge, especially Chinese biochemical knowledge and agricultural technology in the case of modern tea planting and processing.
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