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CFP: Small Mediterranean Spaces (1 & 2 June: Nice)

Proposals are being accepted for “Small Mediterranean Spaces: Islands, Presìdi and enclave. Territorial control in the Mediterranean geopolitics of the Modern Age (16th - first half of 19th c.)” to be held at the Centre de la Méditerranée Moderne et Contemporaine, Nice, France, on 1 & 2 June, 2017
Historians generally consider that Early Modern Age began with Cristoforo Colombo’s discovery of the American continent, the fall of Constantinople to the Ottoman Empire, and the Reformation. Those three events profoundly altered both the maps and the political, cultural and economic balances of Europe. The subsequent closure of the traditional trade routes with Asia and the shift of economic attention towards the opportunities offered by the Atlantic World contributed to marginalize the role of the Mediterranean within European trade. However, that did not mean neither its end nor did it determined less attention by the European states. During the Modern Age, even though on alternate phases, the Mediterranean continued playing its role of a fluid space among three worlds and, above all, it continued holding the balance of Europe. In its waters, ships sailed with the most varied flags and, in the course of time, the modalities through which various states attempted to control its routes, influenced its political geography.

The Mediterranean coasts and islands took on different roles and functions over time, according to those states that, from time to time, controlled them. Apparently small and marginal territories acquired a considerable role because they were located in places that were considered as strategic by one or more states: thus, such geographically small spaces became geopolitically “big”, as outposts placed against an enemy state, Presìdi defending a territory, useful stopovers for trade, or checkpoints on a much broader map.

The workshop will pay particular attention to the history of the Mediterranean of such small spaces and to the strategies adopted by the states in order to control them. Good examples thereof are the Spanish Empire in the 16th century or the Napoleonic Empire at the dawn of the 19th century, whose strategy was, by definition, “imperial”, of conquest, and whose centre of power incorporated everything, thus engulfing small spaces. The Spanish strategy of the Presìdi has been used both in North Africa and in the Italian peninsula to contrast the threat of the Barbary States on one side, to consolidate its own supremacy over the sea and its territories on the other side. The Venetian approach aimed to the defence of the economic interests of the Most Serene Republic of Venice, that owned small enclaves or islands in sites that were strategic for its own routes, and that preserved most of those dominions until its dissolution in Campoformio. Finally, the British strategy produced a direct and an indirect control over the islands and strategic bases in the Mediterranean Sea. Such control did not aim to a subsequent political control of the territory, nor to the protection of continental dominions, but to an economic goal: the security of commercial interests in the form of trades with the East and, later, with the farthest territories of the Empire.

The Spanish Presìdi –both in the Italian peninsula and in North Africa-, the British protectorates, the Venetian conquests, but also the Napoleonic imperial system or even the free ports, all of them were different ways to assert the military, political and economic control of Mediterranean routes or, merely, to carve out a niche, or to guarantee the interests of the state in the Mediterranean.

How did the inhabitants of these territories relate to the dominating power? How did the pre-existing balance change (if it did) and how was the role of the local élites modified after they were incorporated by a new state? How did the authorities of the state that replaced the pre-existing power system control the territory, and what margins did they leave to the personnel who was previously in duty? How were competences divided and how was sovereignty exercised among state authorities, administration in loco, and local élites?

What “local” and “regional” impact had those external presences on the territory? What was the impact of the proximity of a territory under a different sovereignty on the strategies of the neighbouring people or of the international trade?

And, finally, what role were these territories assigned within the broader strategies of the great powers?
These are the main questions that these workshop intend to look into. This call addresses particularly papers which will highlight the following perspectives:
• Case studies considering the role of these small territories within the strategies of the Power they belonged to and/or within the frame of the Mediterranean routes and, possibly, extra-Mediterranean ones;
• The social, economic and territorial transformations that occurred in these small territories when the sovereignty changed; in particular, the way in which the new role that those places were assigned, fitted into the life and the economy of such territories;
• The administration of these territories, which often mirrored their function (military, colonial, political).
The workshop’s purpose goes beyond the mere juxtaposition of micro-histories: it aims at reconstructing a whole scenario, in which these small entities help outlining a history of the Mediterranean in which such small territories are not only included, but also assessed for their past importance.  
Proposals can be submitted in English, French, Italian or Spanish. They shall consist of a one-page abstract (mentioning the sources), and include a few lines biographical sketch. The dead-line for submission is the 31st January 2017. Please submit your proposal to: and
The scientific committee will communicate its decisions in early March 2017.  A selection of the conference proceedings shall be published.
Accommodation costs (one night and dinner) are covered by the Centre de la Méditerranée Moderne et Contemporaine.
Transport costs are borne by participants.
Scientific responsible and scientific organizer:
Antonio D’Onofrio (University of Naples “L’Orientale” and Centre de la Méditerranée Moderne et Contemporaine, Côte d’Azur University).

Scientific committee members:
• Antonio D’Onofrio (University of Naples “L’Orientale” and Centre de la Méditerranée Moderne et Contemporaine, Côte d’Azur University).
• Silvia Marzagalli (Centre de la Méditerranée Moderne et Contemporaine, Côte d’Azur University and Institut Universitaire de France).
• Luigi Mascilli Migliorini (University of Naples “L’Orientale”).
Source: Silvia Marzagalli

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