On track to modernization and nation-building? The social history of the railroad in China, 1895-1950


American Research in the Humanities in China




My research focuses on the impact of railroads to explore the social transformation of Chinese society from the last decade of the Qing empire to the first years under socialism in the 1950s. The study pursues three arguments related to technology transfer and education, gender and class consciousness, and urban society and nation-building in order to analyze how Chinese people from all levels of society responded to new options for employment , socio-economic progress, and life style the railway introduced. My project underlines the railroads’ importance for emerging professionalism, mobility, and commercialization in Chinese society, but also points to significant differences in comparison with railroad development in the US and Europe, in particular with regard to urbanizations and industrial development.