Pacey, Arnold 1937-
Pacey, Arnold 1937-
Born October 30, 1937, in Zhaotung, China; son of Albert Leslie (a missionary) and Mildred (a nurse) Pacey. Ethnicity: "Human." Education: University of Nottingham, B.Sc., 1959; National College of Agricultural Engineering, M.Sc., 1973. Politics: "green/socialist." Hobbies and other interests: Architectural drawing, landscape studies, walking.
Home and office—Addingham, Ilkley, England.
University of Manchester, Institute of Science and Technology, Manchester, England, lecturer, 1963-72; Oxford Committee for Famine Relief (OXFAM), Oxford, England, editor, 1973-74; Open University, Yorkshire Region, Leeds, England, part-time tutor, 1976-2000; retired, 2001.
The Maze of Ingenuity: Ideas and Idealism in the Development of Technology, Allen Lane (London, England), 1974, Holmes & Meier (New York, NY), 1975, 2nd edition, MIT Press (Cambridge, MA), 1992.
(Editor) Water for the Thousand Millions, Pergamon (Oxford, England), 1977.
(Editor) Sanitation in Developing Countries, Wiley (New York, NY), 1978.
(Compiler) Gardening for Better Nutrition: An OXFAM Document, Intermediate Technology Publications (London, England), 1978.
(Compiler) Rural Sanitation: Planning and Appraisal; An OXFAM Document, Intermediate Technology Publications (London, England), 1981.
(Editor, with Robert Chambers and Richard Longhurst) Seasonal Dimensions to Rural Poverty, Allanheld, Osmun (Totowa, NJ), 1981.
The Culture of Technology, MIT Press (Cambridge, MA), 1983.
(Editor, with Philip Payne) Agricultural Development and Nutrition, Hutchinson (London, England), 1985.
(With Adrian Cullis) Rainwater Harvesting, Intermediate Technology Publications (London, England), 1986.
(Editor, with Robert Chambers and Lori Ann Thrupp) Farmer First: Farmer Innovation and Agricultural Research, Intermediate Technology Publications (London, England), 1989.
Technology in World Civilization: A Thousand-Year History, MIT Press (Cambridge, MA), 1990.
(With Adrian Cullis) A Development Dialogue: Rainwater Harvesting in Turkana, Intermediate Technology Publications (London, England), 1992.
Meaning in Technology, MIT Press (Cambridge, MA), 1999.
Contributor to periodicals, including Yorkshire Archaeological Journal and Yorkshire Buildings.
Although trained as an engineer, Arnold Pacey is perhaps better known to modern readers as a historian of technology. Some of his works, ranging from The Culture of Technology to Technology in World Civilization: A Thousand-Year History and Meaning in Technology, trace the ways in society and technology interact and influence each other. In the first two of these volumes, commented David Rouse in Booklist, Pacey "argued that technology transfer is a dynamic process, not a one-way process, and that the technologies of Asia, Europe, and Africa interacted with and influenced one another." In The Culture of Technology the author suggests that technology itself is too often a tool of political control by a technocratic elite and argues for an increased democratization of technology. "In sum," observed Robert J. Baum in Science, "Pacey succeeds in presenting and supporting his radically moderate thesis so effectively that it is almost impossible to reject it."
Technology in World Civilizations looks at the progress of technology—how different cultures developed different tools to meet their everyday needs—throughout the world over the last thousand years. "What is interesting," observed Business History Review contributor Joel Mokyr, "is how these different technologies interacted and influenced each other. It is this interaction that is the central theme of this slim but well-written and lavishly illustrated volume."
"Many historians have written about the transfer of technology across national and regional boundaries and assessed their economic consequences," wrote Merritt Roe Smith in Technology Review. In Technology in World Civilization, the reviewer continued, "Pacey is among the first to examine the phenomenon from the larger perspective of world history." "The result," Smith concluded, "is an engaging thousand-year panorama of how various cultures initiated, and adapted to, technological change."
Meaning in Technology looks at the impact of technology on individuals. Pacey suggests that modern technology has moved toward "an ‘object-centered,’ as opposed to a ‘people-centered,’ technology," explained M. Schiff in Choice. "The former," Schiff concluded, "has been responsible for most of history's inhumane excesses."
Pacey once told CA: "As the son of missionary parents who worked in China, my heritage is one of conscience and social concern and a tendency to see history from an Asian as much as from a Western point of view. What I write is divided three ways between social and environmental questions, interest in history, and a passion for architecture in all its forms. There has often been tension between these different kinds of work, since what one does out of conscience or concern is not always in line with one's enthusiasms or passions.
"Social concern in its most utilitarian guise is exemplified by books edited for OXFAM, the Ross Institute of Tropical Hygiene, and the United Nations, on water supply, sanitation, and nutrition. I have also coauthored books on rainwater harvesting, mainly in Africa.
"My perspective on history is most fully expressed in Technology in World Civilization, a book in which I attempt to get away from the Eurocentric interpretations that prevail in most historical accounts of the development of science and technology. But I have also tried to bring my historical work together with social concerns in more reflective books, namely The Culture of Technology and Meaning in Technology.
"As for my passion for architecture, that has been expressed mostly in short articles and local publications, though it is reflected strongly in my first book, The Maze of Ingenuity: Ideas and Idealism in the Development of Technology, and now that I have reached an age for retirement from teaching and ‘concerned’ writing, it is architecture that forms the biggest part of work in hand.
"Much of my work has been the product of solitary reflection rather than active participation in the academic world, with its conferences and seminars. Although I taught for the Open University in a part-time capacity for many years, most of my writing has been pursued independently, while the work on water supply came out of a short period of employment with OXFAM and a series of brief consultancies."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, August, 1999, David Rouse, review of Meaning in Technology, p. 2004.
British Book News, October, 1981, Donald Curtis, review of Rural Sanitation: Planning and Appraisal; An OXFAM Document, p. 616; October, 1987, Tom Gabriel, "Rural Development and Local People," p. 643.
Business History Review, spring, 1992, Joel Mokyr, review of Technology in World Civilization: A Thousand-Year History, p. 221.
Choice, October, 1975, review of The Maze of Ingenuity: Ideas and Idealism in the Development of Technology, p. 1026; February, 1986, J.M. Jones, review of Agricultural Development and Nutrition, pp. 882-883; March, 1991, T.Z. Kattamis, review of Technology in World Civilization, p. 1160; January, 2000, M. Schiff, review of Meaning in Technology, p. 955.
Datamation, April 1, 1985, Leopold Froehlich, review of The Culture of Technology, p. 153.
Geographical Journal, March, 1986, B.H. Farmer, review of Agricultural Development and Nutrition, p. 111.
Isis, September, 2000, David W. Noble, review of Meaning in Technology, p. 569.
Journal of Technical Writing and Communication, summer, 2000, Sam J. Racine, review of Meaning in Technology, p. 296.
Library Journal, August, 1999, Laverna Saunders, review of Meaning in Technology, p. 133.
Nature, November 25, 1999, Howard P. Segal, review of Meaning in Technology, p. 350.
New Statesman, March 7, 1975, John Naughton, "Idea Traffic," pp. 314-315.
New York Times Book Review, February 26, 1984, Lionel Tiger, "Machines and Their People," p. 13.
Publishers Weekly, March 16, 1990, Genevieve Stuttaford, review of Technology in World Civilization, p. 59.
Science, September 7, 1984, Robert J. Baum, review of The Culture of Technology, p. 1015.
Technology and Culture, July, 2000, George Basalla, review of Meaning in Technology, p. 575.
Technology Review, April, 1991, Merritt Roe Smith, review of Technology in World Civilization, p. 76.
Times Educational Supplement, December 2, 1977, William Cleghorn, "Alive and Unwell," p. 22; April 11, 1986, Peter Parker, "Whose Fault? Which Remedy?" p. 28.
Times Literary Supplement, March 14, 1975, A. Rupert Hall, "Beautiful and Useful," p. 283.
Wilson Quarterly, winter, 2000, Edward Tenner, review of Meaning in Technology, p. 122.