Colonial Anxieties, Corruption Scandals and Xenophobia in Nineteenth-Century Infrastructure Development in Romania

Colonial Anxieties, Corruption Scandals and Xenophobia in Nineteenth-Century Infrastructure Development in Romania

Exploratory Research (PN-III-P4-PCE-2021-0399)

June 2022 – December 2024


Project Leader:
Silvia MARTON, PhD, Associate Professor, Faculty of Political Science, University of Bucharest

Experienced Researcher:
Constantin ARDELEANU, PhD, Professor, The “Lower Danube” University of Galați / Institute for South-East European History, Bucharest

Postdoctoral Researchers:
Raul CÂRSTOCEA, PhD, Lecturer in Twentieth-Century European History, Department of History, Maynooth University, Ireland

Andrei-Dan SORESCU, PhD, Researcher


Photo source: The National Library of Romania

CanCor examines the surprising historical relevance of rail and fluvial-maritime transportation infrastructure for the self-imaginings of nation-building and the narratives of modernization in the Romanian Principalities/Romania, from the 1840s to 1914. Given the dual nature of such transportation infrastructures, imagined as both “progressive” and “disruptive”, their construction brought immense pressure upon local decision-makers. The project has three main goals: First, it will examine anxieties over the possibility that the Principalities/Romania would be subject to economic and even demographic colonization, fears generated by the asymmetrical political and economic interactions with Europe’s Great Powers and neighbouring empires. Second, it will examine the corruption scandals surrounding infrastructure construction that generated and constantly reshaped colonial anxieties in the process of nation-state-building, when faced with Great Powers and their imperial and colonial-like aspirations of political and economic influence. Third, the project will historicize the semantic usages of “colonialism” and “corruption” and their inherently political uses in nation-building in Romania and in the process of infrastructure construction, arguing that, on both accounts, reflexively situating their meanings is necessary as a way of disentangling them from the ex-post analytical vocabulary normatively employed by (contemporary) scholars.


-Conferința de lansare/ Launch Conference:
Infrastructură de transport și națiune. Discursuri și scandaluri ale modernizării în România (1840-1914) / Transportation infrastructure and nation-building. Discourses and scandals of modernization in Romania (1840-1914)
18 noiembrie 2022, Colegiul Noua Europă


-Andrei Dan Sorescu and Raul Cârstocea, ‘The (Great) Numbers Game: Demographic Anxieties and Quotas in 19th and 20th Century Romania and the Global Antisemitic Imaginary’, in Michael Miller and Judith Szapor (eds.), Quotas: The “Jewish Question” and Higher Education in Central Europe and Beyond (1880-1945), New York: Berghahn Books (forthcoming).