French Mediterraneans: Transnational and Imperial Histories

French Mediterraneans: Transnational and Imperial Histories

French Mediterraneans: Transnational and Imperial Histories

French Mediterraneans: Transnational and Imperial Histories

Synopsis

While the Mediterranean is often considered a distinct, unified space, recent scholarship on the early modern history of the sea has suggested that this perspective is essentially a Western one, devised from the vantage point of imperial power that historically patrolled the region's seas and controlled its ports. By contrast, for the peoples of its southern shores, the Mediterranean was polymorphous, shifting with the economic and seafaring exigencies of the moment. Nonetheless, by the nineteenth century the idea of a monolithic Mediterranean had either been absorbed by or imposed on the populations of the region.

In French Mediterraneans editors Patricia M. E. Lorcin and Todd Shepard offer a collection of scholarship that reveals the important French element in the nineteenth- and twentieth-century creation of the singular Mediterranean. These essays provide a critical study of space and movement through new approaches to think about the maps, migrations, and margins of the sea in the French imperial and transnational context. By reconceptualizing the Mediterranean, this volume illuminates the diversity of connections between places and polities that rarely fit models of nation-state allegiances or preordained geographies.

Excerpt

The Mediterranean is associated with many images: the seat of Western civilization, the domain of the crusaders, a site of Islamic learning and culture, the playground of corsairs and slavers, a locus of exoticism and sexual fantasy, a space of exchanges, migrations, and invented or reinvented identities, and—of relevance to this volume—an imperial sea. Recent scholarship on the early modern history of the Mediterranean proposes that the concept of this sea as a unified space is essentially a Western one, devised by the imperial powers that patrolled its seas and controlled its ports. the peoples of its southern shores (in particular in the Islamic states), such work suggests, did not share this conception of the sea: rather, for them the Mediterranean was polymorphous, shifting with the economic and seafaring exigencies of the moment. By the nineteenth century, however, the idea that the Mediterranean was a unified space had either been absorbed by, or imposed on, the populations living along its southern shores. This volume reveals the significant French element in the nineteenth- and twentieth-century making of this singular Mediterranean. Mediterranean perspectives, in turn, reposition current arguments that modern French history must be understood as transnational and imperial. To these ends, French . . .

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