Everyday Technology: Machines and the Making of India's Modernity: Machines and the Making of India's Modernity (science.culture)

December 8, 2020
Everyday Technology: Machines and the Making of India's Modernity: Machines and the Making of India's Modernity (science.culture)

In 1909 Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, on his way back to SouthAfrica from London, wrote his now celebrated tract HindSwaraj, laying out his vision for the future of India andfamously rejecting the technological innovations of Westerncivilization. Despite his protestations, Western technology enduredand helped to make India one of the leading economies in ourglobalized world. Few would question the dominant role thattechnology plays in modern life, but to fully understand how Indiafirst advanced into technological modernity, argues David Arnold,we must consider the technology of the everyday.Everyday Technology is a pioneering account of howsmall machines and consumer goods that originated in Europe andNorth America became objects of everyday use in India in the latenineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Rather than investigate"big" technologies such as railways and irrigation projects, Arnoldexamines the assimilation and appropriation of bicycles, ricemills, sewing machines, and typewriters in India, and follows theirimpact on the ways in which people worked and traveled, the clothesthey wore, and the kind of food they ate. But the effects of thesemachines were not limited to the daily rituals of Indian society,and Arnold demonstrates how such small-scale technologies becameintegral to new ways of thinking about class, race, and gender, aswell as about the politics of colonial rule and Indiannationhood.Arnold's fascinating book offers new perspectives on theglobalization of modern technologies and shows us that to trulyunderstand what modernity became, we need to look at the everydayexperiences of people in all walks of life, taking stock of howthey repurposed small technologies to reinvent their world andthemselves.