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Mediterranean blues: archives, repertoires and the black holes of modernity


The Mediterranean is often evoked as the metaphor for the various faces of modernity: from its presumed roots in classical Greece to the intertwining of Africa, Asia and Europe in its waters, emerging and insisting in today’s immigration ‘crisis’. Attempting to take methodological certainties and the universalizing history of Western modernity ‘offshore’, we propose to confront the sea not only in terms of a barrier or a bridge, but also as an ontological challenge. Thinking with the Mediterranean allows us to trace a history that questions and interrupts the institutional organisation of events and knowledge. Other scales of interpretation bring into play the potential of dissonance and a reworking of the inherited world into unexpected interpretations. Here, repertoires more than archives emerge as sites of constant re-elaboration and re-assemblage. If the Mediterranean exposes us to a ‘crisis’ – migrant, environmental – then it is a crisis of modernity itself, of its narrative, and its seemingly firm terrestrial coordinates.

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