ABSTRACTS / RESUMES pour Session 2:
Jeudi le 1 décembre 2011 : fin de la matinée
la Société Industrielle de Mulhouse,
10 rue de
(à 2 minutes de
de Mulhouse ou tram « République ») la Gare Centrale
Kapitolina FEDOROVA, (
European University at St Petersburg
Creating the border of communication spaces: the Chinese Eastern Railway (construction and interethnic communication on the Russian-Chinese border).
For a long period in history the border between Russian Empire and
was a place of constant and intensive cultural and language contacts. In the beginning of the twentieth century migrants from China played important economic role both in urban and rural areas of the South-Eastern part of Russian Empire, the fact that was considered dangerous by Russian authorities. So called ‘yellow peril’ became an important part of the official discourse in the Russian Empire, and the Chinese Eastern Railway construction aimed, among other purposes, to recover Russian government power in the region (1). Ironically this very project facilitated Chinese migration to Transbaikal districts since many Chinese workers were hired due to their high efficiency and lower salary expectances. On the other hand, the railway construction resulted in creating first Russian settlements in Manchuria and founding of China Harbin – the city later to be known as a symbol of Russian Diaspora in . China
The Chinese Eastern Railway transformed the social landscape of the Russian-Chinese border region. New stations became settlements with mixed population whose life was determined by rail-road functioning. These new towns build around the stations can be seen as contact zones where Russian and Chinese cultures met and were in the constant process of communication. Cultural transitions can be seen on different levels, e. g. architectural (‘Russian-style’ houses still can be found in some Chinese towns) or linguistic (in their contacts with each other Russian and Chinese speakers used so called Russian-Chinese Pidgin(2)). One of the most interesting examples of such interactive space is the case of twin stations on two sides of the border − Zabaikalsk (initially named Otpor, literally ‘Rebuff’, but later given a less provocative name to express good feelings towards ‘Chinese comrades’) on the Russian side and Manzhouli on the Chinese one.
Drastic changes in the border region took place in the 1930th when the Soviet Union closed its border with
and deported thousands of ethnic Chinese. For the next 50 years the railway was the main connecting link between two countries. Of course this connection was under strict control by the state. Railroads crossing national borders served simultaneously as a connection and as a barrier in the USSR due not only to custom and passport controls but also to the fact that broad gauge rather than narrow one was used in the country and it took (and still takes) from 5 to 6 hours to adjust train wheels before crossing the border. Since travelers were not allowed to leave the station during this time border stations functioned as specific zones separated from ‘ordinary’ life. Everyday interethnic contacts apart from official ones became virtually impossible during this period. In the same time people’s life in the border railway towns was strongly influenced by the border; while there was no real communication with foreigners ‘the others’ were constantly present on the symbolic level. China
Serious changes in the
Soviet Union during Perestroika resulted in the loosening of border regulations. It became possible for the people from the Russian-Chinese border area to cross the border without pre-arranged visas. At the beginning of the 1990s, cross-border trade became the main source of income for many Russians and Chinese people and intensive interethnic communication nowadays is an indispensable part of everyday life in the bordering towns, and even some linguistic features very similar to the Russian-Chinese Pidgin of the past can be observed. At the same time railway now is not the main thruway for border-crossing since most small-scale trade and touristic activity is channeled through the motor-car terminal. As a result the urban spaces of Zabaikalsk and especially Manzhouli transformed again with their railway stations turning into peripheral district. On the other hand these stations still possess high symbolical value for the local people whose reminiscences of the past create ‘shadow cities’.
In the paper I’ll use both historical and literary sources and my own field data to describe three historical periods of Otpor/Zabaikalsk and Manzhouli existence and reveal the role played by these railway stations in creating and functioning of interethnic communication space.
(1) L. H. Siegelbaum, ‘Another “Yellow Peril”: Chinese migrants in the Russian
Far East and the Russian reaction before 1917’, Modern Asian Studies, 1978, 12, 2: 307–30. For more information on the Chinese Eastern Railway see: S. Urbansky, Kolonialer Wettstreit: Russland, China, Japan und die Ostchinesische Eisenbahn, Frankfurt; : Campus Publishers, 2008. New York
(2) Russian-Chinese Pidgin, also known as ‘Kyakhta language’ emerged in the middle of the 18th century in Kyakhta, small town on the Mongolian border which was used exclusively for trade contacts between Chinese and Russian merchants. In the second half of the 19th century it spread along the Russian-Chinese border to the
Far East. See: D. Stern,. ‘Myths and facts about the Kyakhta trade pidgin’, Journal of Pidgin and Creole Languages, 2005, 20, 1: 175–87; E. V. Perekhvalskaya, Russkie pidzhiny, : Aleteia, 2008. St. Petersburg
Saugata BHADURI / Simi MALHOTRA, (
Interzones Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi) / (Jamia Millia Islamia, ) New Delhi
Taking the Post-colonial Train: The 'Interzonal' Story of the Indian Railways and the
Setting up of a rail network in India was first conceived by the British East India Company in 1832, and after several committees and a few initial hiccups, the first train ran in
on December 22, 1851, and passenger services started from April 16, 1853. Throughout the colonial era, the railways acted as the very nervous and circulatory system through which the colonial machinery extended its tentacles all over the subcontinent, and it is the railways that in a way integrated the diverse regions of 'India' into the interzones and the imagined conglomerate of a nation that we today conceive it to be. One of the earliest and grandest terminal stations to be opened by the fledgling East India Railway Company was the Howrah Station in what was then Calcutta on August 15, 1854. One of the busiest railway terminals of the world, India Station has seen several modifications and ups and downs in the more than a century and a half of its existence. This paper, in studying the development of both the Indian Railways and the Howrah Station over time, wishes to examine the complex connection that railways as a network and a mode of transport, and stations as liminal zones of hybridization and exchange, have had to play in the dissemination of discourses for a colonial polity as also postcolonial attempts to revise and live with the same. In doing so, the paper will rely on historical data, archival material, anecdotes, and architectural details, to flesh out the story and profile of the Indian Railways and the Howrah Station as veritable Interzones spanning diverse times, peoples, and modes of governance. Howrah
12h00 : Déjeuner
« Au vieux Mulhouse »,
la Réunion, Mulhouse.