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From Mare Nostrum to Mare Aliorum: Mediterranean Theory and Mediterraneism in Contemporary Italian Thought


This article surveys both the place of 'modern' Italy in the resurgence of Mediterranean Studies in the last decade and a half, and the contributions by Italian Studies and culture at large to the contemporary discourse on Mediterranean-ness. The author frames the discussion of recent scholarship by and about Italian Mediterranean-ness in a paradox: notwithstanding the role that 'Mare Nostrum' played in Italian identity construction and foreign policy (before, during and after Fascism), modern Italy is given very short shrift in current Mediterranean Studies. By contrast, over the past two to three decades 'Italy' has both confronted an unprecedented wave of immigration from the Mediterranean basin, and become almost synonymous with Mediterranen-ness in the global market of images. Responding to this paradox, the author argues, Italian scholars and intellectuals have been progressively transfiguring the Mediterranean from 'Mare Nostrum' (our sea) to 'Mare Aliorum' (the sea of the other).

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