Mediterranean Intimacies: An Archipelago Formation between Sardinia and Tabarka.

By Sarah DeMott
Submitted to Session P4856 (Mediterranean Crossings and Tunisian Settlements, 1860-2017, 2017 Annual Meeting
Mediterranean Studies;
LCD Projector without Audio;
"Mediterranean Intimacies" constructs patterns of mobility across the Mediterranean archipelagos by reading the Roman Catholic archival records of Sardinian children baptized in Tabarka, Tunisia at the turn of the 20th century. Testimony of parents, godparents, and the Catholic record state the paternal origins and preserve the routes of the baptized child's genealogy. The records are such that they state the natal origins (the name and birth place) of each person on the baptismal certificate, thereby making it possible to physically map the relationships between the child, father, mother, godfather, and godmother to specific places. Through an archipelagic perspective, I trace the baptismal registry in order to literally and figuratively locate inter-personal patterns of familial connectivity across the islands of the western Mediterranean Sea. Surprisingly, what we find is a social network of intimate relationships that are not only local, but are also transregional spread across the islands of the western Mediterranean. As the baptismal record marks a public ceremonial presentation of one’s child to the Catholic community, I read this act of baptism as that of public assembly. By acknowledging the public record, Sardinian children represent the duality of mobility and settlement. Framed through an archipelagos approach, I considers the material and metaphoric realities of island life. An archipelago of intimacy emerges from mapping the geological and human body’s physical relationship to islands of the Sea (both Tabarka and Sardinia.) Therefore, I suggest that the archipelago is a performative category, a marker of both interpersonal intimacies and public assembly, which has the potential to recognize acts of movement, stability and intimacy across the Mediterranean.