Making raw materials: innovation and imported technology in Meiji Japan : article de Aleksandra Kobiljski
Article d’Aleksandra Kobiljski (CNRS, CRJ-CCJ) et Sarah Teasley (RMIT University), paru dans History and Technology (Volume 38, Issue 1, 2022).
Disponible en accès libre sur Taylor&Francis Online à l’adresse suivante : https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/07341512.2022.2100970?src=
This article explores coal and wood manufacturing in late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Japan as the empirical sites for understanding the material gaps between industrial inputs available locally and the affordances of imported technology. It demonstrates how the process of making coking coals for steel smelting and wooden boards for furniture-making challenge a conceptual framework that assumes that raw materials exist on one side of a binary and manufactured goods on the other. Instead, this article foregrounds the creative ways in which actors approached, redesigned and manufactured raw materials locally, to make them comply with the constraints of imported technologies. In doing so, the article provides a useful counterbalance to scholarly explorations that anchor modern Japan in notions of technology transfer and appropriation, thus failing to recognize the creative labour necessary to making imported technologies work on local ground. By focussing on the labour of matching materials to hardware, this article restores to the historical record the creativity and innovation that formed the fabric of the first wave of Japan’s industrialisation and nuances our understanding of raw materials in the history of technology in general.