Reconfiguring Transottoman Mobility: Transport Infrastructure in the Ottoman Danube Province in the Second Half of the 19th Century
In the second half of the 19th century, the Ottoman Empire redefined its connections with the world by modernising already existing transport infrastructures such as roads and introducing new transport technologies such as railways and steam shipping. The project will explore the imprint this modernisation of infrastructure had on transottoman connectivity with East-Central Europe by focusing on the Lower Danube. This area that was regulated by the International Danube Commission was in the focus of international investors and, after the creation of the Ottoman Danube Province in 1862, also a priority area of Ottoman reform policies. I am particularly interested in the way different economic and political priorities of Ottoman and non-Ottoman actors as well as their mental maps were defined and negotiated in planning processes and the realisation of infrastructure projects. In this respect Ottoman actors such as politicians and officials, but also local elites and merchants that expressed their needs and wishes through petitions to the government, will be in the focus. Overall, the history of transport infrastructures offers the opportunity to describe the transformation of mobility spaces in an age of rapid modernisation and, at the same time, to stay receptive to older forms of entanglements between the Ottoman world and East-Central Europe. It is a central thesis of the project that infrastructural modernisation not only followed the logic of European imperialist penetration, but was also influenced by Ottoman dynamics.