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Contested Waterway. Governance and Ecology on the Lower Danube, 1800–2018

Project manager: Luminita Gatejel
Project duration: 2020–2024
In cooperation with: The Leibniz Institute for the History and Culture of Eastern Europe (GWZO) in Leipzig; Center for Advanced Study Sofia; New Europe College (NEC) in Bucharest; Central European University (CEU) in Budapest; Slovenian and Romanian Academies of Science

This project examines the impact of two centuries of human intervention in the riparian space of the Lower Danube, contextualizing its current ecological degradation. The proposed network, coordinated by the IOS and the GWZO, brings together cooperation partners from the region (Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Slovenia) as well as international scholars to create an interdisciplinary team to analyze the complex relationship between governance and the environment. Over the course of 200 years, the Danube has been impacted by different legal and administrative regimes, including empires, international organizations, nation-states, state socialism, and the European Union. Each regime shaped the river’s environment, often clashing with local communities and the river itself. Drawing on the concepts of “governmentality” and “eco-governance,” the project analyzes the multilayered, often contested histories of remaking the Lower Danube through four dimensions: 1) international law and international organizations, 2) economic exploitation, 3) infrastructural transformation and its social consequences, and 4) current environmental programs. From an academic perspective, the project will contribute to ongoing debates about the history of environmental degradation, governance, Europeanization, river management practices, and economic development. The practical impact of the project will be the transfer of knowledge to local communities and government agencies.

Funded by: Leibniz Association

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