Mediterraneans: North Africa and Europe in an Age of Migration, c. 1800-1900

Mediterraneans: North Africa and Europe in an Age of Migration, c. 1800-1900

Mediterraneans: North Africa and Europe in an Age of Migration, c. 1800-1900

Mediterraneans: North Africa and Europe in an Age of Migration, c. 1800-1900

Synopsis

Today labor migrants mostly move south to north across the Mediterranean. Yet in the nineteenth century thousands of Europeans and others moved south to North Africa, Egypt, and the Levant. This study of a dynamic borderland, the Tunis region, offers the fullest picture to date of the Mediterranean before, and during, French colonialism. In a vibrant examination of people in motion, Julia A. Clancy-Smith tells the story of countless migrants, travelers, and adventurers who traversed the Mediterranean, changing it forever. Who were they? Why did they leave home? What awaited them in North Africa? And most importantly, how did an Arab-Muslim state and society make room for the newcomers? Combining fleeting facts, tales of success and failure, and vivid cameos, the book gives a groundbreaking view of one of the principal ways that the Mediterranean became modern.

Excerpt

A colossal Anglo-Dutch Naval force assembled at Gibraltar under the command of Admiral Sir Edward Pellew, Lord Exmouth, and set sail for the so-called Barbary Coast in the spring of 1816. the expedition first anchored off Algiers, where Exmouth obtained the release of Christian captives; subsequently the fleet moved on to Tunis and Tripoli. By April 1816, agreements were reached with the local rulers of the three Ottoman regencies over the ostensible objective—the abolition of corsairing and the trade in enslaved Europeans. Nevertheless, the armada returned a second time that summer to Algiers, where the commander of the British flotilla, composed of the Queen Charlotte and fifty-four gun, mortar, and rocket boats, sent additional demands to the Turkish dey (regent). His refusal to accede unleashed a devastating bombardment on August 26 and 27. in the dark of night, barges and yawls crept close to the port, setting it afire and destroying the Algerian navy as well as part of the city. More captives, mainly from Mediterranean islands, were released. Christian slaving and corsair raids had come to an end, at least theoretically. in many ways, the expeditions to Algiers in 1816 constituted a reprise of Napoleon’s 1798 invasion of Egypt as well as a dress rehearsal for France’s occupation of Algeria in 1830.

Tunisia’s encounter with Exmouth differed radically, however, from Algeria’s. After leaving Algiers the first time, the fleet had next put in to La Goulette (Halq al-Wad), the port for Tunis, on April 10, 1816, with eighteen warships whose hoisted flags signaled readiness for hostilities. It stayed in port until April 23, but the cannon remained silent. Tunis was spared. After intense negotiations . . .

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