2023-24 Lloyd & Susanne Rudolph Field Research Fellow



The Burma-China Railway Revisited: British Imperial Space and Infrastructure at the Turn of the Twentieth Century



My broader project seeks to understand the spatial dynamics of late nineteenth century imperial expansion in relation to infrastructure, energy, and law and the consequences of these changes on global commodity chains, land use, and politics. In this component specifically, I want to understand why British imperial interests in establishing a railway to China virtually disappeared at the beginning of the century. Only when Imperial Japan invaded Burma and threaten access to China during the Second World War did the Allied Forces commit to building the “Burma Road” across the border. In other words, Japanese Imperial expansion threatened the established spatial order that appeared to emerge at the end of the previous century. In the intervening years, however, imperial economic ventures reached their apex alongside with political unrest, eventually producing the nationalist movement that succeeding the colonial government. How did the relationship between politics and capital transform alongside the moment when the colonial frontier became more fixed, and how does this conceptual shift influence present interpretations of past political action?






Dominiquo Santistevan is a PhD student in the Department of Sociology at the University of Chicago. His research interests include the history of capitalism, empire, and theories of historical change.