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Iron Silk Roads: studying Modern Asian history through the lenses of the history of transport, traffic and mobility

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PS/SE Iron Silk Roads: studying Modern Asian history through the lenses of the history of transport, traffic and mobility

Reaching Asia from Europe through land transport routes has been a major preoccupation of national governments in Europe since the 19th century, when the first railway lines were build in Continental Europe. The routes contemplated included trade routes between Central and Southern Europe, through the Balkan Peninsula and on to the Ottoman Empire. The railway lines contemplated would bring Great Britain and Central Europe in communication to the Middle East, and henceforth to the rest of Asia. In the 19th century and the first half of the 20th century, such railway routes did not materialise further than the Ottoman Empire. The Trans-Siberian railway remained the only railway line connecting Europe to East Asia throughout the 20th century. Famous trains in the 19th century and the first half of the 20th century such as the ´Orient Express´ and the ´ Simplon Orient Express´ connected Central and Southern Europe to the Middle Asia reaching eastwards up to Baghdad. The invention of the steamship in the first half of the 19th century and the opening of the Suez Canal (1869) had brought in the meantime Europe and Asia closer. Transport systems in Asian countries were initially developed by the Western powers under colonial regimes. As the political regimes in Asia changed over the course of the 20th century, so did the transport regimes as well, and they contributed in bringing forward a new socio – political and economic order. Following the years of decolonisation (in the aftermath of the WWII), the transport regimes in the majority of the Asian countries were placed at the services of local governments, and have been called on to respond to the needs of the societies and economies of the new Asian states. This seminar will discuss how transport networks and Asian societies were co - constructed in the 19th and 20th century. Through the study of transport developments, various aspects of the modern history of Asia will be discussed. Such aspects include imperialism, colonialism but also technology transfer, technological appropriation, rising nationalisms in the 20th century and globalisation. Geographically, the area of study that will be covered includes, Russia, the Soviet Union and Central Asia (e.g. the Trans Siberian Railway), South and East Asia (with an emphasis on historical developments in India and China) and the Middle East (e.g. the Baghdad railway and the Suez Canal). The students will familiarise themselves with literature on the topic, through reading both articles published in specialised academic journals and key publications (books) on the topic. Literature (Provisional) Soviet and Russian Railways Heywood, Anthony (1999): Modernising Lenin's Russia. Economic reconstruction, foreign trade and the railways, 1917-1924. Cambridge, New York: Cambridge University Press. Marks, Steven G. (1991): Road to power. The Trans-Siberian Railroad and the colonization of Asian Russia ; 1850 - 1917. Ithaca NY: Cornell Univ. Pr. Westwood, J. N. (2002): Soviet railways to Russian railways. New York: Palgrave in association with the Centre for Russian and East European Studies, University of Birmingham. South and East Asia Kerr, Ian J. (1995): Building the railways of the Raj, 1850-1900. Delhi, New York: Oxford University Press. Kerr, Ian J. (2007): Engines of change. The railroads that made India. Westport, Conn: Praeger. Middle East McMurray, Jonathan S. (1999): Distant ties. Germany, the Ottoman Empire, and the construction of the Baghdad Railway, 1903-1918. Huber, Valeska (2013): Channelling mobilities. Migration and globalisation in the Suez Canal region and beyond, 1869 - 1914. Diss.--Konstanz, 2009. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press. Imperialisms General & Technology Transfer Davis, Clarence B.; Wilburn, Kenneth E.; Robinson, Ronald Edward (1991): Railway imperialism. New York: Greenwood Press. Headrick, Daniel R. (1981): The tools of empire. Technology and European imperialism in the nineteenth century. New York: Oxford University Press. Headrick, Daniel R. (1988): The tentacles of progress. Technology transfer in the age of imperialism, 1850-1940. New York: Oxford University Press.

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