Great Game Visions and the Reality of Cooperation around Post-Soviet Transnational Infrastructure Projects in the Caspian Sea Region

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    This article argues that the complexities of the Caspian Sea region and of the Baku–Tbilisi–Ceyhan (BTC) pipeline are only narrowly understood and explained by the geopolitical literature. In an attempt to address these shortcomings and to propose an alternative reading of transnational infrastructures, the BTC pipeline is revisited. Theoretically, the article uses insights from functionalism to explain the three phases of the BTC project: planning of the pipeline; construction of the pipeline; and, use of the pipeline. The core argument made is that the BTC project is much more than a power resource; it is the core medium of interaction for international and regional actors (governmental, non-governmental and intergovernmental) because of the number of connections that it makes possible in a highly contingent world. In contrast to Great Game assumptions, it is argued that transnational infrastructures are not necessarily negative or positive; rather, what is important is to view their contribution, mixed impacts and limitations from a broader perspective. In this sense, the article aims to situate the BTC infrastructure within the wider political, economic and social analyses of the Caspian Sea region.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)159-181
    Number of pages23
    JournalEast European Politics
    Issue number2
    Early online date3-May-2019
    Publication statusPublished - 2019


    • RUSSIA
    • ENERGY
    • US

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