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Hungarian Witnesses of Infrastructure Construction in Manchuria (1877–1931)

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The Case of the Eastern Chinese Railway

image of Inner Asia

This paper presents accounts of seven travelogues, written by Hungarian travellers and professionals who visited or worked in Manchuria between the end of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth centuries. So far these texts have not received wide scholarly attention because they are accessible only in Hungarian, although they contain unique first-hand observations of the construction of the Eastern Chinese Railway and many ethnographic notes. The author suggests that some narratives, especially those written by Hungarians who worked as engineering specialists, present very balanced analysis of the situation, because they belonged neither to the colonising project in China, nor to the colonised side, but rather were enthusiasts of technological modernisation. As a theoretical frame, the author attempts to apply notions and concepts developed by infrastructural and cybernetic anthropology.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Social Anthropology, University of


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