Tales of transport corridors, pipelines, and other megaprojects often purvey old stories of renewed geopolitical rivalry among global powers, like the EU and China, and the domination of smaller nation-states at their margins. This geopolitical imagery also underlines recently established transport corridors that aim to provide greater connectivity between Europe and China. This project analyzes one such infrastructure project, the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars (BTK) railway. Often re-styled as the “New Silk Road,” the BTK forms a transboundary nexus that links a variety of actors on various scales, both as a built environment infrastructure project and as a form of materialized geopolitical imagery. The main set of actors that the project considers is the TCDD (Turkish railway system), Turkish and international companies involved in freight and passenger traffic, local state and non-governmental institutions involved in railway administration and construction, as well as ordinary inhabitants of the Turkish-Georgian border area.
Across local, trans-local, transboundary, and global scales, the project examines how the BTK strengthens Europe-Asia connectivity; which actors articulate which kind of claims; which geopolitical imagery and narratives these actors use to frame the BTK and to which ends; how sustainable is the BTK’s promise of improved connectivity.
Andrea Weiss is a social anthropologist who specializes on the Caucasus and its neighborhood. Her main interests are in political anthropology, borderlands, trans-boundary links, center-periphery relations, economic anthropology, and infrastructure. She holds a graduate degree in social anthropology and political science from Vienna University, as well as a MA in Central Asian and Caucasian Studies from Humboldt University in Berlin. Andrea has held a number of scholarships, among them at the Max-Planck-Institute for Social Anthropology in Halle, at the Orient Institute in Istanbul, as well as a Marie-Curie Fellowship at Central European University in Budapest. She also worked as a researcher at the German Institute of International Affairs as part of the EU-funded consortium ISSICEU (Intra- and Inter-Societal Sources of Instability in the Caucasus and EU Opportunities to Respond). Andrea has undertaken field research in Croatia, Georgia, the de-facto state of Abkhazia, Turkey, and Iran. Recently, she co-edited the volume “Reconfigurations of Political Space in the Caucasus,” published by Routledge.