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CFP: Space and traverse in the Mediterranean (6-9 July: Utrecht)

Papers are being sought for the panel “Space and traverse in the Mediterranean” to be held at the American Comparative Literature Association annual conference, in Utrecht, The Netherlands, 6-9 July 2017

In his landmark work, Lingua Franca in the Mediterranean, J.E. Wansbrough elaborates “a perception of space as demanding at least traverse and, if possible, occupation.” Wansbrough’s preoccupation is with orbital movement over the short or long durée, through which networks of communication and trade across the sea are established and maintained. But migration, of course, may also be figured as a one-way trip, with returns occurring only in memory, if at all. Does crossing the sea represent an irrevocable break, or rather a stage in an ongoing process of movement characterized by repeated departures and returns? Under what circumstances are Mediterranean crossings undertaken, and what, if anything, do travelers carry with them?

Refugees, immigrants, tourists, merchants, and traders have traversed the Mediterranean throughout its long history. Julia Clancy-Smith attempts to define the diversity of Mediterranean population movements, listing “wanderings, pilgrimage, pastoral nomadism, transhumance, voluntary relocation, forced expatriation, trade, diaspora, travel, tourism, slavery, and labor mobility of many kinds.” In all these varied cases, paths are beaten into the shifting surface of the sea, allowing us to see the nodes around which Mediterranean journeys revolve and mark patterns of movement ranging from the diasporic networks of Sephardic Jews to the well-trod route of the Grand Tour, from queer cruising in the Levant to contemporary migration routes originating in sub-Saharan Africa or the Middle East, from cabotage to the movements of imperial or national navies.

We invite papers addressing any aspect of migration and travel in Mediterranean history, and particularly encourage submissions that engage in comparisons that are not limited to the sea’s European shores. Please email the panel organizers, Harry Kashden ( and Karla Mallette ( with questions.

Submission portal open 1-23 September, at

Source: Harry Kashden


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