We present an analysis of the Danube Delta (Romania) that is focused on the evolution and use of roads, so as to highlight the primacy of movement in spatialisation and the fluidity of roads themselves. We demonstrate that local inhabitants of the Danube Delta have relied on a network of roads for survival and have in the process fitted themselves to a deltaic space full of affordances that foreign observers have missed. Our objectives are achieved by juxtaposing a cartographic archive spanning from the 19th century up to 2019 with the lived experience of the deltaic space. The maps we uncover and redraw show how the road infrastructure in the Danube Delta has evolved. We explain what has driven this evolution by interpreting the archive in light of long-term field work (2015–2019). This allows us to re-characterise the deltaic space as a hybrid of solidity and liquidity, and to show the evolution of the local perspective in relation to traversing this complicated land. This is a completely new historical and cartographic contribution to a severely understudied area, the Danube Delta.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This research was funded in part by the Evaluating Democratic Governance in Europe research programme, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium, and the Research Foundation Flanders (FWO), grant FWOTM 756. The authors thank Răzvan Crimschi and Viorel Ivanov for the field support and for crucial discussions.
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