The role of the Trans-Siberian Railway in distortion of the East Asian power balance and the outbreak of the Russo-Japanese war 1891-1904
Academic Level: Under-Graduate, Masters
The dissertation has to be a study in International History. To qualify as International History the subject must involve an element of engagement with the analysis of relations between states and/or societies; alternatively it may involve the study of the history of attitudes in one society towards others or comparative studies involving at least two states and/or societies. The topic must not be confined purely to the domestic affairs of one society or state.
- Dissertation is an exercise in using primary sources to write on a precise topic in International History. Dissertations must therefore be based substantially on a critical analysis of primary sources.
- Dissertations must include a bibliography of all consulted sources at the end, listing first primary sources (by collection, not referring to individual documents), then secondary sources.
- Footnotes are required for all direct quotations and paraphrases and for all uncommon information drawn from primary or secondary sources. Notes should be footnotes rather than end notes and should be numbered consecutively throughout the dissertation.
- Project Description: The role of the Trans-Siberian Railway in distortion of the East Asian power balance and the outbreak of the Russo-Japanese war.
- The period of the late nineteenth century and the early twentieth centuries saw the ideology of imperialism and expansionism dominant within the thinking of the major powers. The construction of the Trans-Siberian railway was a key event that established international perception of Russia as an active expansionist in the region. Diplomats around the world immediately realized that the completion of the Trans-Siberian Railway would alter the balance of power in the Far East.
- The dissertation will examine the hypothesis that Trans-Siberian railway became damaging rather than beneficial project for Russian policy in East Asia, on account of the fact that it became a key factor leading to the alienation of the Anglo – American powers and eventual failure of the Russian policy in the region.
- Russian primary resources will be used to analyze the motivation for undertaking the project and in particular will explore the view that the Nicholas II’s stance was an extension of the domestically popular policy of Alexander III. The dissertation will analyze the case of the potentially beneficial ‘penetration pacifique’ plans of the Finance Minister Sergei Witte. However, such view of the project will be put into perspective by opposing it with immediate international concern about the project. International publications such as The Financial Times, The Times, The Pall Mall Gazette, Los Angeles Herald and The Peking Times will be used to analyze the global implications of the Railway construction and consequential withdrawal of Anglo-Saxon support in the years preceding the Russo-Japanese war.
- The dissertation will provide a unique perspective by contrasting Russian and Anglo-Saxon primary sources in order to understand the perception of the Trans-Siberian railway in the years preceding the Russo-Japanese war, and the role of the railway project as a factor leading to the Russian involvement in the unnecessary and damaging war of 1904-1905.