Transnational system building across geopolitical shifts : The Danube-Oder-Elbe Canal, 1901-2015

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We study the politics of water infrastructure through the Large Technical Systems (LTS) literature, which examines human agency in the dynamics of complex sociotechnical systems. We take into account the transnational turn in LTS-studies in the past decade. Transnational analysis is about the mutual shaping of the international, national, and local. Accordingly, we look at how key system builders –historical agents envisioning and working on the entire sociotechnical system –identified and negotiated international, national, regional, and local politics through the design process. We do this for the intriguing case of the Danube-Oder-Elbe Canal, the so-called 'missing link' between the North, Baltic, and Black Seas, with a design history spanning wildly diverging paradigms of political rule – from imperialism to fascism, communism, and 'EU-ropeanism'.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)272-291
Number of pages20
JournalWater Alternatives : An Interdisciplinary Journal on Water, Politics, and Development
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Large Technical Systems
  • transnational history
  • environmental history
  • water politics
  • transnational infrastructure
  • central european history


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