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The Modern Mediterranean: From Colonial Sea to Environmental Crisis?


  • Credit value: 30 credits at Level 7
  • Convenor: Dr Joseph Viscomi
  • Assessment: coursework of 1000 words (20%) and a 4000-word essay (80%)

Module description

The scale of contemporary population displacement has made the Mediterranean into a contentious region that reveals a complex set of historical dynamics. Indeed, questioning the ‘crisis’ of migration and refuge has led scholars to ponder whether we are witnessing a truly ‘European crisis’. How can we understand the geopolitical and social relevance of the Mediterranean within European historical trajectories connecting east and west, and north and south?

In this module we examine this and related questions through the field of modern Mediterranean studies. We will seek to understand - through a combination of intellectual and socio-political histories - how historians and anthropologists have conceptualised the sea and its constitutive processes.

Indicative syllabus

  • Braudel’s sea
  • Anthropology’s Mediterranean
  • Micro-regions and global connectivity
  • Legal regimes in late nineteenth-century Mediterranean
  • Colonial seas and the imperial Mediterranean
  • Nationalist Mediterraneans
  • Decolonising the sea
  • Mediterranean post-wars and the emergence of the Cold War
  • A new Mediterranean region?
  • Migration and refuge: the doorsteps of Europe

Learning objectives

By the end of this module, you will be able to:

  • display a good knowledge of the major themes in European Mediterranean historical study
  • handle primary sources with confidence and demonstrate the ability to use them as a means of critiquing current paradigms
  • situate debates about the European Mediterranean world within wider debates about the development of the historical discipline and methodological approaches.