Railways and the making of 'modern mobilities' of migration in the British Imperial Imagination, 1853-1914

Diane Drummond

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


The vision of the railways making the 'modern mobilities' of migration that underpinned the New Imperialism of Empire was nothing new to the British. It lay at the very heart of how they imagined their Empire during the mid and later nineteenth century. From the earliest days of railways at home many different British writers saw the railway as a means of extending British rule and settlement across the World. This process was envisaged and then took place in India, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, and ‘British Africa’, while British investment and development of railways outside the ‘formal Empire’ was responsible for their extension there too. It was one of the interrelated factors that resulted in major ‘diasporas’ of population not just for the British themselves but for other races of their Empire too.
The proposed paper will explore how this vision of railways throughout their formal and informal Empire shaped the British imperial imagination regarding mass migratory mobilities during the period 1853 to 1914. It will explore British writings on railways and migration to British India and Africa, and mass migration to Canada. An interdisciplinary approach informed by historical, cultural and mobility studies, as seen in Marian Aguiar, Tracking Mobility: India’s Railways and the Culture of Mobility, University of Minnesota Press, 2011, will be employed. The paper is part of a wider project, Railways and the British Imperial Imagination, 1840-1950.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusUnpublished - 27 Jun 2015
EventVictorian Mob - University of Kent, Canterbury, United Kingdom
Duration: 25 Jun 201527 Jun 2015

Academic conference

Academic conferenceVictorian Mob
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


  • Victorian
  • Modernities
  • Mobilities
  • Railways
  • India
  • British East Africa
  • Canada


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