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Making History: Technologies of Production and the Estate of Knowledge in East Asia

How did production, the making of things, come to be regarded as an inferior part of the process from the conceptualization of a commodity to its consumption? And how did East Asia, which has long been a place of production, come concurrently to be dismissed by other global actors on account of that fact and denied the potential for innovation? Through detailed case studies of making and doing from the early modern and modern eras, our special issue critically engages with the division between production and knowledge that lies at the heart of those dominant narratives. In this introductory essay, we suggest that our effort to return attention to production elucidates its role as an ‘estate of knowledge’ – a site deemed by individuals and societies to be where knowledge lies, where innovation is believed to take place – and helps to explain the geography of difference that has defined the global history of manufacturing and East Asia’s place within it.

History and Technology ; 38/2–3