On the Nation’s Margins.

Territorial and Urban Policies during the Romanian Administration of Southern Dobrudja (1913-1940)


Toader Popescu


  • colonization
  • nation-building
  • integration
  • territorial planning
  • urban planning
  • infrastructure

Southern Dobrudja (the “Cadrilater”) was granted to Romania in 1913, after the Second Balkan War. During the almost three decades of Romanian administration, the authorities embarked on an ambitious colonization and nation-building process.

In just twenty-seven years, the share of Romanian population soared from only 2.3% in 1913 to 29.1% in 1940. The paper looks into this dramatic demographic shift and into its territorial aspects. It investigates the instrumental role played by territorial and urban policies in the Romanian project of integrating (both symbolically and functionally) this marginal province within the narratives and the structures of the Romanian nation.

Our conclusion is that, even though this enterprise started on good premises, and although the central authorities in Bucharest did extensively use territorial and urban policies as nation-building tools, a combination of internal and external factors (among which marginality – both geographic and imaginary – was crucial) led to the ultimate failure of the project.