Coronavirus (Covid-19): Latest updates and information
Skip to main content Skip to navigation

Science and Technology between China and the West

For discussion

How and when was Western science introduced in China?

How deeply integrated did Western science become in China?

How did Joseph Needham see world history?

Does the introduction of science in Chinese mean the Westernization of China?

Core Readings

Bray, Francesca, “Technics and Civilization in Late Imperial China: An Essay in the Cultural History of Technology.” Osiris, 2nd series 13 (1998), pp. 11-33


* Elman, Benjamin A., “Jesuit Scientia and Natural Studies in Late Imperial China, 1600-1800.“ Journal of Early Modern History 6 pt. 3 (2002), pp. 209-232


* Finlay, Robert. “China, the West, and World History in Joseph Needham's Science and Civilisation in ChinaJournal of World History 11.2 (2000), 265-303.


Waley-Cohen, Joanna, “China and Western Technology in the Late Eighteenth Century." American Historical Review 98 pt. 5 (1993), pp. 1525-1544.


Further Readings



Ho, P.Y., “China and Europe: Scientific and Technological Exchanges from the Sixteenth to the Eighteenth Centuries”, in China and Europe: Images and Influences from the Sixteenth to the Eighteenth Centuries, ed. by T.H.C. Lee, (1991).

Huff, Toby E., The Rise of Early Modern Science. Islam, China, and the West (2003).

Jami, Catherine, ‘Learning Mathermatical Sciences in during the early and mid Qing’ in Elman and Woodside, eds., Education and Society in Late Imperial China.

Mungello, D. E. Chapters 4 & 5, ‘European Acceptance of Chinese Culture and Confucianism’ and ‘European Rejection of Chinese Culture and Confucianism’, in The Great Encounter of China and the West, 1500-1800 (Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, 2005), especially pp. 77-132.

Perdue, Peter C. ”Joseph Needham's Problematic Legacy” in Technology and Culture 47.1 (2006), pp. 175-8.

Joseph Needham, ‘Conditions of Travel of Scientific Ideas and Techniques Between China and Europe’, Science and Civilization in China (Cambridge University Press, 1965) Chapter 7 of Volume 1, pp.150-248

You might be interested in the Needham Research Institute, which continues to be a very important location for the study of science and civilization in China. www.nri.org.uk 

For the wartime photographs taken by Dr Needham, see here.