[P4856] Mediterranean Crossings and Tunisian Settlements, 1860-2017

Created by Sarah DeMott
Tuesday, 11/21/17 10:30am


Mediterranean Crossings and Tunisian Settlements is a panel of scholars working at the intersection of studies on mobility, migration, and coloniality between Southern Europe and Tunisia from the late 19th through the 21st centuries. During this period an estimated 300,000 Mediterranean islanders, proletariat people from Malta, Sicily, Favignana, Pantelleria, Sardinia, and Greece, migrated to Tunisia - a day’s journey across the central Mediterranean corridor. The presenters each follow various aspects of migratory movement across the central Mediterranean corridor and consider the making of emigrant settlements throughout Tunisia. The panel’s first paper opens in 1860 (before the arrival French Protectorate in Tunisia) in the village of Tabarka and presents a portrait of a Sardinian community of Roman Catholics who fished for coral just off the northern tip of Tunisia. Mapping a network of Sardinian familial relationships through vital records obtained in the Catholic Archive, we begin the panel by considering a close reading of the term mobility as applied to the Mediterranean. The next two presenters consider the ways that the socio-economic, political, and cultural identities of Italian and Greek communities in Tunis and Sfax maneuver between national regulations and policies of the French Protectorate. Mediterranean emigration generates multiple dimensions of colonial subjectivity, as exemplified through the history of Berber and Libyan emigrates to Tunisia via Italian occupied Tripolitania. These transnational examples illustrated the ways in which historical memory (as well as forgetting) contribute to the construction of Mediterranean boundaries and borders. We conclude the panel in the contemporary moment with our last two presenters drawing comparison of how this longer history of settlement in Tunisia is remembered and mobilized through the construction of local memory in Sicily. Missing Tunisian sons that are buried on Lampedusa are the subject of mourning rituals in communities of Southern Tunisia that have become depopulated due to contemporary migration to Southern Europe. The panel, therefore, seeks to unite these accounts of mobility to Tunisia as a way to both assemble historical narratives of movement and to mobilized local memory as an intervention in contemporary discussions around Mediterranean migration.

Tunisia, in all its complexities, is the central protagonist common throughout the panel. It is our aim to focus on the particularities of Tunisia in terms of resources, climate, environment, media, language, religion, food, culture, and politics in relationships to patterns of movement, settlement, and mobilization across the Mediterranean Sea. The criss-cross of local people on the Mediterranean Sea challenges the notion of a bound or bordered Mediterranean identity, and thus, this panel engages in a new narrative of Tunisia as a reciprocal space of Mediterranean crossings. This multi-disciplinary panel of historians, anthropologists, and geographers respond to 21st century mass Mediterranean migration through a collective re-articulations of mobility, not only from the perspective of emigrant crossings, but of settlements as well. From Tabark at the northern tip of the country to La Goulette, Tunis, Sfax, Zarzis, and the country’s southern-most border with Libya, the panel's aim is to privilege Tunisia as the focal point in which to assemble narratives about movement across the Mediterranean, to record this legacy, and to define a politics of Mediterranean mobility.


Anthro; Geog; Hist



Naor Ben-Yehoyada

(Columbia University)
Panel Participating Role(s): Discussant;

Sarah DeMott

(New York University)
Panel Participating Role(s): Organizer; Presenter;

Ilaria Giglioli

(University of California Berkeley)
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;

Gabriele Montalbano

(Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes)
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;

Mark Choate

(Brigham Young University)
Panel Participating Role(s): Discussant;

Valentina Zagaria

(London School of Economics and Political Science)
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;

Chiara Pagano

(University of "Roma Tre")
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;

Giorgia Cantarale

(Sapienza University of Rome)
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;