To attend in Berlin: Roads to Happiness

Nora Lafi Discussion

Roads to Happiness: Transport Infrastructure in Southeast Europe, Hegemonic Discourse, and its Challenges

16 / 17 / 18 March 2023

Humboldt University Berlin, Unter den Linden 6, room 2249

Conveners: Malte Fuhrmann, Hannes Grandits

Transport infrastructure has played an influential role in Southeast Europe’s political discourse for almost two hundred years. Roads, canals, and later railways were intimately linked with the enlightened absolutist promise of enabling “the pursuit of happiness” (in English liberalism) or “refah” (in Ottoman reformism). This nexus between good infrastructure, the subjects’ happiness, and a state obligation to provide for both, began to inform Habsburg policy as of the eighteenth century and became popular in the Ottoman Empire, its breakaway provinces and successor states, by the 1830s. And also, for almost two hundred years, the promise of infrastructure development and its failures have provoked resistance and Eigen-Sinn (self-interested adaptations), both on the epistemic level and in direct action. The conference will address the relationship of traffic infrastructure to power and its impact, among others, on discourse, culture, and everyday life in Southeast Europe from 1800 until the recent past. 

Thursday, 16 March

17.00 Words of Welcome

Hannes Grandits (Berlin) and Malte Fuhrmann (Berlin)

17.15 Key Note Speech

Dimitris Dalakoglou (Amsterdam): The Grand (De)Constructions: Roads, Mobility, and Infrastructures in South East Europe after World War II

19.00 Dinner Reception

Friday, 17 March

9.00 Transport Ways from Empire to Nation State (Chair: Christian Voss)

Malte Fuhrmann (Berlin): 

Developmentality in Southeast Europe: Paths, Entanglements, and Ideospheres

Fulya Özkan (Antalya): 

The Trabzon-Erzurum-Bayezid Road and Its Discontents: A Success Story of the Late Ottoman State or a Challenge to its Authority?

Boriana Antonova-Goleva (Sofia):

Transforming the Ottoman Periphery: The Social Impact of the Rusçuk and Varna Railway

11.00 Coffee Break

11.30 Colonial Anxieties, Corruption, and Antisemitism in Nineteenth-Century Romania (Chair: Florian Riedler)

Silvia Marton (Bucharest):

“The German Gang” and the “Crooks”: Morality of Politicians, Business Interests, and Political Connections

Constantin Ardeleanu (Bucharest): 

Collateral Damage. The Strousberg Scandal, Romania’s Anxieties, and a National Port in Southern Bessarabia (1860s–1870s)

Andrei-Dan Sorescu (Bucharest):

Teutophobia, Colonialism, Anti-Semitism. The Strousberg Scandal, its Prehistory and Echoes

Raul Cârstocea (Bucharest/Maynooth): 

The Strousberg Affair and the Fragility of Romanian Sovereignty: The ‘Jewish Question’ as National and Colonial Question

13.00 Lunch Break

14.30 Railway Construction = Nation Building? (Chair: Hannes Grandits)

Danijel Kežić (Regensburg):

The Belgrade-Sarajevo-Split Railway Project and the Failed Spatial Integration of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes

Özge Sezer (Cottbus): 

Bridging the State to the People: Railways in Eastern Turkey during the Early Republic 

15.30 Coffee Break

16.00 Whose Transport System is it Anyways? Decolonizing Infrastructures (Chair: Dimitris Dalakoglou)

Lyubomir Pozharliev (Leipzig): 

Eastern Trolleybuses vs. Western E-Buses – Decolonial Insights from Sofia

Andrea Gritti (Paris):

Who Built the First Railways in Macedonia? Histories of Italian and Ottoman Migrant Workers

17.00 Excursion

Malte Fuhrmann (Berlin): Refugees, Prisons, and Traffic Infrastructure: Moabiter Werder from Berlin’s Area for Undesirables to Germania and Beyond, 18th to 21st c.

19.30 Dinner

Saturday, 18 March

9.00 A Traffic Hub through the Ages (Chair: Silvia Marton)

Florian Riedler (Leipzig), Nenad Stefanov (Berlin): Belgrade and Zemun as a Historical Mobility Space between Two Empires, 1739–1878

Ranka Gašić (Belgrade): The Belgrade Railway Junction in the Context of Relocating Empire and State Borders, from 1880s until Today

11.00 Final Discussion

12.00 Departure