Journal of Transportation Security

, Volume 10, Issue 3–4, pp 87–114 | Cite as

The Third World security predicament and state building in Romania. The question of railway infrastructure, 1869–1989



Apart from laying an exaggerate emphasis on the systemic level of analysis at the expense of the unit level, Wallerstein’s world-system theory disregards completely the question of stateness in the peripheral areas. The latter ones have been explored only from an economical perspective and thus the political and security aspects have been utterly overlooked by Wallerstein who has paid little heed to what Mohammed Ayoob has termed the “third world security predicament”, a trope that basically refers to either lack of stateness or very low capacity states in peripheral areas. Wallerstein’s undetailed perspective is hardly surprising considering that his world-system theory was meant to be a heuristic surrogate, couched in economic terms, for Mackinders’ famous Heartland perspective.

We argue that lack of stateness in peripheral areas has decreased the ability of local power centers to legitimate themselves at home and participate effectively in the world politics. At the same time, low bureaucratic accumulation specific to peripheral areas has made the regional states vulnerable to external pressures. Thus, due to this high political permeability, the peripheral state elites have become obsessed with the issue of security couched rather in a modern fashion, i. e. with a focus on political and military aspects, and less in a post-modern way, i.e. with little emphasis on economic, societal and environmental aspects. Therefore, in the security imaginary of peripheral state elites, local vulnerabilities have always played a more significant role than external threats. Our article argues that the infrastructure state, as an expression of political centralism, has developed in Romania mainly around the railway infrastructure, which has played a preeminent role in comparison to road infrastructure throughout most of the twentieth century. We argue that the asymmetry between railway and road infrastructure in Romania has showed the obsession of the local elite with the issue of political security, which is understandable considering the late emergence of politically centralized state in most of the peripheral areas. The main line of inquiry of this article suggests that by tracing the development of railway infrastructure one could measure the evolution of the state building process in Romania.

Moreover, the article addresses the beginning of the railway infrastructure’s securitization process, which started once the Romanian state became politically independent in the aftermath of the Russo-Turkish War of 1877–1878. The securitization of the railway infrastructure started at a time when Romania met the institutional conditions that impelled the state building process in Latin America, namely internal and external political stability added to a state project backed by the political elite. The article also examines the reasons behind the securitization process of the railway infrastructure in Romania. The main objective was to shore up political centralization, and this is why local and regional initiatives regarding railway infrastructure were forbidden by law whilst public policies consistently developed railway infrastructure at the expense of road infrastructure. The article argues that security dilemma was another important reason behind the securitization of railway infrastructure in Romania.


Security predicament Romania Railway infrastructure State building in Romania State building Third world Transport infrastructure 


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute for Political Science and InternationalRelations - Romanian AcademyBucharestRomania

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