Hobsbawm saw the epochal expansion towards a by far more global order taking place in the short period between 1848 and 1875 (the “age of capital”) hardly driven by soldiers or adventurers, “but of sober men in sober clothes, spreading respectability and a faith in private enterprise, along with gasworks, railroad lines, and loans”. At the same time, to the ruling political elite in a world still dominated by empires it seemed increasingly clear that upholding power could only function if the respective empire could rely on up-to-date “infrastructure”. But how did private enterprise and aspirations to imperial rule actually function together? In this seminar we will critically reflect about the ways imperial infrastructures were developed in Europe and beyond and what importance they had in enhancing political power. At the same time, we will reflect about how this was connected to the heydays of bourgeoise liberalism/capitalism.