Edges of Empire

KNW 2399: Edges of Empire

The Ordering of Nations


British colonization in India lead to many infrastructure projects throughout the continent, including the perilous task of building the railroads.  As seen in Bengal-Nagpur Railway Construction image, native Indian’s were often the main source of labor for constructing the railroads.  The men are seen to clearly be constructing a tunnel into a mountain with minimum equipment and support for the tunnel.  These jobs were often extremely dangerous and lead to the death of many workers, so why would the British continue building these railroads?   The railroads meant control of the entire Indian continent and could generate enormous economic gains for the British.  Despite the dangerous work the British employed disposable native labor for their own self-interests, while native Indians perished.


Post-colonial rule was a reign of terror for many of the native citizens of Mexico as seen displayed in the gruesome image.  Two children are seen hanging from a tree for an unknown crime if any, while a soldier stands by posing.  What did these children do to deserve such an unfortunate fate? The brutal punishment displays the power which the government ruled over the people.  Power was asserted through sheer violence and fear, which validated the authority of the ruling officials; just as the soldier stands tall and confident next to his ill-fated victims.  The postcard even claims that this is a “familiar scene in Mexico” at the time of the revolution, confirming the frequently cruel treatment of the Mexico citizens.

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