Technology, Skills and the Pre-Modern Economy in the East and the West

Technology, Skills and the Pre-Modern Economy investigates how technological skills and knowledge were reproduced and disseminated in the advanced agrarian societies of China, India, Russia and Europe in the centuries before the Industrial Revolution. The book offers regional surveys of Europe, China and India, as well as comparative studies of building, porcelain manufacturing, instrument making, printing, and shipbuilding. The authors engage with the on-going debate about the ‘great divergence’ between Asia and Europe, and its possible causes. Technology has so far had a minor role in that debate. This book is bound to change that, through the bold claims made by various contributors.

Contributors are: Karel Davids, S.R. Epstein †, Gijs Kessler, Jan Lucassen, Christine Moll-Murata, Patrick O'Brien, Kenneth Pomeranz, Maarten Prak, Tirthankar Roy, Richard Unger, and Jan Luiten van Zanden.

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Maarten Prak is professor of Social and Economic History at Utrecht University. His publications include The Dutch Republic in the Seventeenth Century (Cambridge University Press 2005; 2nd edition 2014; Chinese translation 2013), editor, with Catharina Lis, Jan Lucassen, Hugo Soly, Craft guilds in the early modern Low Countries: work, power and representation (Ashgate 2006), and editor, with S.R. Epstein, Guilds, innovation and the European economy, 1400-1800 (Cambridge University Press 2008).

Jan Luiten van Zanden is Faculty professor of Global Economic History at Utrecht University and Honorary Professor at the universities of Groningen (NL) and Stellenbosch (SA). Among his recent books are The Long Road to the Industrial Revolution: The European Economy in a Global Perspective, 1000-1800 (Brill 2009), with Arthur van Riel, The Strictures of Inheritance. The Dutch Economy in the Nineteenth Century(Princeton University Press 2004), and with Daan Marks, An Economic History of Indonesia 1800-2010 (Routledge 2012; Indonesian translation 2013).
About the authors

Foreword by Patrick O’Brien

Introduction: Technology, skills and the pre-modern economy in the East and the West, Maarten Prak, Jan Luiten van Zanden


1. Transferring technical knowledge and innovating in Europe, c.1200 – c.1800, S.R. Epstein

2. Apprenticeship and Industrialization in India, 1600-1930, Tirthankar Roy

3. Skills, ‘guilds’, and development: Asking Epstein’s questions to East Asian institutions, Kenneth Pomeranz


4. Mega-structures of the Middle Ages: The construction of religious buildings in Europe and Asia, c.1000-1500, Maarten Prak

5. The technology and teaching of shipbuilding, 1300-1800, Richard W. Unger

6. Moving machine-makers: Circulation of knowledge on machine-building in China and Europe between c. 1400 and the early nineteenth century, Karel Davids

7. Guilds and apprenticeship in China and Europe: The Jingdezhen and European ceramics industries, Christine Moll-Murata

8. Labour relations, efficiency and the Great Divergence: Comparing pre-industrial brick-making across Eurasia, 1500-2000, Gijs Kessler and Jan Lucassen

9. Explaining the global distribution of book production before 1800, Jan Luiten van Zanden

Bibliography of the published works of S.R. Epstein
All interested in global history and in the history of technology of the early modern period.