Energy History Project

Joint Center for History
and Economics

Harvard University Center
for the Environment

Means of Transport:
Technology, Mobility, and Energy in Modern Asia


The movement and circulation of people and goods have become the focal point of much scholarly research in recent decades. In tracking mobilities and flows, this body of interdisciplinary work has pointed to the ways in which a range of phenomena – from individual identities and social experience to national polities and the economy – have been constituted in motion. The workshop seeks to engage this broader ongoing discussion with a specific focus on the means of transport – the technologies that made mobility possible as well as the energies that powered them. It is interested in a selection of topics related to this focus, including technological innovation, energy use, infrastructural support, environmental impact, changing notions of speed and time, accidents and immobility, and the meanings ascribed to various forms of transport. Taking Asia as its site of inquiry, it brings together scholars of East, South, and Southeast Asia whose work interrogates the different types of transport technologies and the making of a region on the move.

The workshop has been organized by Victor Seow. It is part of the Energy History Project at the Joint Center for History and Economics, supported by the Harvard University Center for the Environment. The Project would like to thank the Harvard-Yenching Institute for their support in this event.