Karl Starns

University of Washington, Jackson School of International Studies

Infrastructure and Empire: The development of the Russian railroads and its impacts on the Russian Empire

In the nineteenth century, several states underwent dizzying industrialization drives to elevate or simply maintain their positions in the international power system dominated by the European Great Powers. The industrialization projects of the nineteenth century entailed massive infrastructural expansions and innovations that facilitated an unprecedented explosion in the movement of people and resources. The Russian Empire embarked on such a drive that fueled one of the largest railroad projects in history. Unlike its contemporaries the Russian central government was not able to uniformly consolidate its power or completely subsume the power of regional elites. I argue that the Russian railroad system actually served to strain imperial relationships within the empire.