Organized Panel Session
To our great sadness, we have to mention that Aaron Moore, our previous discussant passed away. We will hold the panel as planned in his memory.
Our panel takes a historical approach to investigating the influence of infrastructure building, notably of the railway systems, in twentieth century East Asia under Japanese imperial influence. Railway infrastructure not only shifted mobilities of people, goods, and information, but interacted with and influenced the practices of imperial and anti-imperial power, knowledge production, and everyday life within East Asian societies over time. Rather than taking railways as physical infrastructure, we seek the social, technological, and environmental networks and elements that powered the operation and function of the railway, as well as the everyday experience of individuals that gives another layer of meaning to infrastructure. At the crossroads of nature, society, and Japanese expansion in East Asia, we trace how infrastructure was shaped by, and shaped the societal and natural landscape.
Grunow’s paper addresses the environmental perspective. He asks how the railway network muddled the relationship between man-made and natural environments by examining the environmental impact of railway construction. Dong’s research addresses the technological and social aspect. She analyses how railway towns became the nucleus for imperial domination, social interactions between Japanese and non-Japanese, and transfers of technology. Nishizaki takes the perspective of trans-war and economic history. She investigates how the South Manchuria Railway Company nurtured human capital through in-house training programs. Her research implies the connection between Japan’s postwar economic development and its colonial past.