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Title: Transcontinentalism :technology, geopolitics, and the Baghdad and Cape-Cairo railway projects, c.1880-1930
Authors: Scott, Matthew Alexander
Issue Date: 2018
Publisher: Newcastle University
Abstract: This thesis identifies and analyses what it terms the doctrine of transcontinentalism, a geopolitical and technological vision for the projection and territorialisation of state power across continental space between c. 1880 and 1930. At this time many transcontinental railways were either fully or partly constructed across the American, Asian, and African continents. Transcontinentalism was a doctrine based upon the recursive relationship that developed between civilised and naturalised geopolitical imaginations of space and the spread of railway technology in the late nineteenth century. The thesis argues that the construction of transcontinental railways should be conceptualised in terms of the extension and territorialisation of state power and civilisation across continental space in an increasingly closed world political map, where European states were imagined as the pinnacle of civilisational development while nonetheless existing in constant, naturalised competition with one another. The entwining of this naturalised geopolitical imagination with a notion of railways as circulatory systems enabling the movement of labour and resources across space produced the imperative to insert railway systems into the supposedly inert, lifeless, and unconscious expanses of non-European continental space, reawakening and revitalising the continents and connecting them to wider global circulations. Concomitantly, this was variously equated to the ascension of whichever state could construct transcontinental railways to the status of global hegemon. After detailing the historical and conceptual roots of transcontinentalism in Part One, Parts Two and Three of the thesis conduct empirical analyses, based on extensive archival research in Britain, into the Baghdad and Cape-Cairo Railways. In doing so the thesis demonstrates the development of transcontinentalism in two British examples, while drawing out the wider contributions to the fields of critical geopolitics, British diplomatic and imperial history, and wider histories of the expansion of imperial powers across continental space.
Description: PhD Thesis
Appears in Collections:School of Geography, Politics and Sociology

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