Forging the Nation Through Rails: Transportation Infrastructure and the Emergence of Chinese Nationalism
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While nationalism remains a vital element in the production of the political and economic landscape, it is often treated as a static container for other processes or neglected altogether. Rather, it must itself be treated as a process--a nationalizing project--emerging from a constellation of often contradictory social forces. One such process of nationalization is the development of large-scale transportation infrastructure, such as railroads. These projects produce both new spheres of circulation and new understandings critical to navigating these novel environments, which together radically transform the relation between people, government, and territory. In early twentieth century China, the complicated contest over railroad rights produced and was produced by a fractured political economic geography. Understandings of both identity and space remained fragmented, cohering only partially into a singular entity, thus demonstrating the intimate interrelation between state power, political identity, and territories both real and imagined.