The description is submitted to:


Session C5036 (Is There a Modern Muslim Mediterranean?), 2017
Did piracy contribute to the unmaking of the modern Mediterranean?
Some historians (Molly Greene, Joshua White) of the early modern Mediterranean have focused their attention on the world of the semi-licit and engaged the issue of connectivity by drawing attention to the world of smuggling and piracy as a site of communication and connection in the early modern Mediterranean. On the eve of modernity in the eighteenth century, practices of Mediterranean piracy in particular facilitated the development of shared laws and legal practices, as states converged in their understandings and agreements about the appropriate ways to regulate piracy. Despite the intractability of many of the pirates and black marketers plying their trades in the Mediterranean, laws and practices evolved to create a shared space in which pirates and officials alike knew and generally followed the rules even though there were always occasions when rule-breaking could be the more attractive option. What do the major transformations in the practices of and attitudes towards piracy in the nineteenth century, then, have to tell us about Mediterranean narratives of continuity and rupture as we move into the modern period? Is the Mediterranean as a legal space exhibiting more or less conjunction on the subject of piracy and on whose terms? Are shifts in the definition and regulation of piracy emblematic of the emergence of new colonial patterns? How much room is left for the irregular, unstable, and clandestine connections of the semi-licit and illicit? In brief, I suggest we think about the extent to which the Mediterranean was losing coherence in the nineteenth century in rhythm with the decline of piracy and other illicit activities in its sea space. (Judith Tucker)