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Irene Anastasiadou


"My project looks at attempts to reorganize Asian and European railways since the WWII in order to establish land routes for the transport of goods between Europe and Asia, competitive to the existing maritime routes. My aim is to assess such projects in relation to the sociopolitical context in different time periods, understand the politics hidden in the formulation of such projects, and the factors that have led to their (non-) realization since the end of the WWII. In doing so, I will provide a first analysis of how the socio economic and political context has historically affected, and still affects today the establishment of such routes."


Scientific Career

Since 2017 Irene Anastasiadou has been working as a fellow for the centre for the history of global development at Shanghai University. Her latest publications is "Iron Silk Roads, the geopolitics of past and present initiatives for the revival of Eurasian Trade through overland transport corridors" in the Cambridge Journal of Regions, Economy and Society, 2019, 12, 57 - 75, while in the last year, she published her research in the German journal for Global History (Zeitschrift für Weltgeschichte) and in Chinese.

Irene Anastasiadou was born in Athens (Greece). She graduated from the Department of History and Philosophy of Science at the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens in 1999. She continued her study as a postgraduate student at the same department, specializing in the field of history of technology. In 2004 she moved to the Netherlands. In the coming years she worked as a doctoral student at the department of Engineering and Innovation Sciences at the Eindhoven University of Technology. The topic of her research was historical. Specifically she looked at the role of railways in the configuration of contemporary Europe, focusing on developments in the interwar years. In 2009 she was awarded her PhD on the topic of railway internationalization in interwar Europe (published as Transnationalism and Railways in the Interbellum, by Amsterdam University Press in 2012). Throughout her post graduate studies she has been actively involved in the activities (conference participation, publications, organizational tasks etc.) of various international academic communities, such as the Tensions of Europe research network (since 2002), the International Association for the History of Transport, Traffic and Mobility (T2M, since 2003) and the Society for the History of Technology (SHOT). In the years 2005 to 2008 she was awarded the title of 'an international scholar' of SHOT. Since 2009 she has worked as a post-doctoral researcher in research projects in various universities in Greece and the Netherlands. From 2014 to 2016, she worked as an IPODI Marie Curie Fellow at the faculty of humanities at the Technische Universität Berlin. Her research project concerned railways and Europe Asia relations since the end of the WWII, and up to our days.



IPODI Research Project

"IRON SILK ROADS" Railways and Europe-Asian Relations, 1940s-present

Duration: 1 September 2014 – 31 August 2016

Mentor: Prof. Dr. Hans-Liudger Dienel, Faculty I, Institut für Berufliche Bildung und Arbeitslehre

Abstract: The end of the Cold War signalled the political re-organisation of the region of South Caucasus and was also accompanied by extensive plans for the re-configuration 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 for 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 and Social Council 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. In the proposed project, we will discuss various projects for the re-configuration of Asian railways from the 1940s to the present, focusing on the work of intergovernmental and professional bodies in Europe and Asia. By examining such projects we will seek to explore how Europe–Asia relations have been formed in this ‘low’ politics arena of infrastructural development. 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 European Policy makers.



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