TU Berlin

Arbeitslehre/Technik und PartizipationIron Silk Roads

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Iron Silk Roads: Railways and Europe Asian Relations, 1940s-Present


The End of the Cold War signalled the political reorganisation of the region of South Caucasus and was also accompanied by extensive plans for the reconfiguration of the infrastructure in the region. In the 1990s, the EU financed a corridor study for the configuration of a new Europe – Caucasus – Asia railway route. The main drivers of the EU are economic and political: the new railway could move Western industrial products to the East and petroleum products to the West, also consolidating the EU´s political influence in the region. Meanwhile, Chinese policymakers and the Chinese government drafted their own plans for the configuration of transnational railway corridors that would connect China to Europe through Central Asia. The United Nations Economic Commission for Asia and the Pacific endorsed these plans in the 1990s and has been promoting them ever since. We can see then that politically strong national and transnational actors see infrastructure planning and specifically the formation of transnational railway corridors as a powerful instrument of political expansion and economic growth. The project discusses projects for the reconfiguration of Asian railways from the 1940s to the Present, focusing on visions for establishing Europe Asia freight routes. By examining such projects it seeks to explore how Europe Asian relations have been formed in the low politics arena of infrastructural development, since the end of the WWII. Ultimately, an interpretation of the competing political and economic agendas ´hidden´ in these projects, as well as an analysis of the factors that lead to their realisation (or non-realisation) – be they economic, political or technological – can prove a useful instrument to policy makers.


IPODI Marie Curie & Berlin University of Technology

September 2014-August 2016

Mitarbeiter/in: Dr. Eirini (Irene) Anastasiadou



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