MedRoute Workshops

Entangled Worlds Workshop

The aim of this workshop was to shed light on daily practices in multicultural societies, in the early modern Mediterranean and Atlantic worlds. Entangled Worlds was held at College Park on 8th and 9th April 2019, as part of the events hosted at The Nathan & Jeanette Miller Center for Historical Studies, at UMD.

Focusing on foodways, multilingual practices, and sexuality the two-days encounter was intended to generate a discussion on how identities are created and re-affirmed in areas with an elevated level of cultural intermingling. It is precisely in these plural spaces:

where one is most likely to encounter a stranger or foreigner […] often originated from afar and […] distinguished by language, physical appearance, dress, beliefs or practices, characteristics covered by the slippery modern terms ‘ethnicity’ of ‘cultural identity’

Derek Keene, ‘Segregation, Zoning and Assimilation in Medieval Towns’

The workshop created a fruitful space of discussion in which MedRoute received its first feedback, starting from Professor Francesca Trivellato‘s thoughtful one. It was attended by scholars for US and Europe and it was concluded by a wonderful keynote on Maltese language of Professor Michael Cooperson. The opening reception was accompanied by the Mediterranean sounds of Trio Trela.

Download the Workshop Program here:

The Strategy of Toleration

On 16th October 2018, I presented my monograph Tolerance Re-Shaped in the Early Modern Mediterranean Borderlands: Traveller, Missionaries and Proto-Journalists, published by Routledge in April 2018. The lunch talk The Strategy of Toleration: Mobility and the Functionality of Standing the Otherness in Early Modern Mediterranean Border-Spaces (17th-18th centuries) was held at the The Nathan & Jeanette Miller Center for Historical Studies, Department of History, University of Maryland, College Park.

The book is based on my PhD thesis, defended at the University of Florence in April 2011. It is actually the basis on which the MedRoute project was built and developed. In inquires the way Italian subjects that were moving into the Mediterranean were depicting cultural otherness and how they developed a practical tolerance. This toleration was much more of a kind of capacity to standing the otherness, rather than an appreciation of cultural diversity. Nevertheless, it was a very efficient tool!

People were used to find strategies of coexistence, eventually understanding otherness itself. Sailing from Istanbul (Part 1), to Izimr (Part 2), and finally ending in Valletta (Part 3), the book is a mosaic of Mediterranean ways of understanding difference and it represent the first part of our project maritime route. That is: the beginning of our voyage.

My question was and is: how do port cities manage they cultural pluralism? Is difference a resource or a problem?

So, let’s start traveling, just from here!


EAUH 2018

MedRoute attended the 14th Conference of the European Association for Urban History that took place in Rome from August 29th to September 1st , 2018.
The project was presented in the panel Standing Out, Getting in, Staying in. Being foreign in Cities, 13th-18th centuries with the paper “Between Frank Street and the Grand Port. Experiencing Urban Pluralism in the Port Cities of Izmir and Valletta (17th-18th centuries)”.

Through a comparative analysis of the pluralism-(s) of Izmir and Valletta, the paper explored how members of the same groups handled coexistence following different strategies in different urban spaces. Political factors, and not a “global” Mediterranean attitude, is crucial for the elaboration and development of cultural pluralism in the two environments. The new “city users” introduced new cultural elements as well as new demands into urban discourse, stimulating the responsiveness of entities entrusted with the organization of geographical and social spaces. The practice of cultural otherness enhanced spontaneous toleration as an effect of a relativistic cultural shock.

The interaction of political factors with foreign groups led to the development of different forms of early modern multiculturalism, ranging from the creation of a new universal society, as in the case of Malta, to a different degree of separation/hybridization of diversities, as in Izmir.

For the panel program here