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Connected or Traversed?

Plans, Imaginaries, and the Actual State of Railway Projects in Mongolia

Maria-Katharina Lang and Baatarnaran Tsetsentsolmon

Abstract

This article focuses on recent railway projects in Selenge and Gobi provinces in Mongolia by addressing railway plans and narratives from a historical perspective. New imaginations and expectations have arisen in connection with planned rail infrastructures such as the “Steppe Road,” which to date only exists on the papers of planners and in the minds of residents. Taking the insight by Morten Axel Pedersen and Mikkel Bunkenborg that roads may act as “technologies of distantiation,” this article further argues that railroads not only connect but also separate, traverse, and disperse. Thus, the critical question remains whether the rail system connects Mongolia or whether is it rather used as a transit zone for outside interests.