This article deals with the first regulation project in the Danube Delta conducted by the European Commission of the Danube (ECD), one of the first international organizations in Europe. It looks at the ECD as a collective actor that planned and oversaw an infrastructural project under the auspices of the European Great Powers. In the name of free trade, the commissioners were able to overcome imperial rivalries and foster cooperation between diplomats and technical experts, thus shaping the collective identity of the commission. Hydraulic engineers acted as mediators in this system by adapting their formal knowledge to the political situation of the commission and to the complex environmental conditions at the mouth of the Danube. In this context, I argue that the regulation of the Danube Delta captures the evolution of the engineering knowledge at a point of transition between pre-modern river engineering and (high) modernist engineering projects. First, engineers rejected previous local practices of river management and relied exclusively on their own observations. And second, they did not try to contain nature's power but rather adapt their constructions to the agency of the river.


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pp. 925-953
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