Alternative Telelogies: The Mediterranean and the Modern Word(s)

Brian Catlos
History
UC Santa Cruz

Sharon Kinoshita
Literature
UC Santa Cruz


What was the role of the Mediterranean in the construction of the Modern world? In contemporary public discourse, the Middle Ages, if considered at all, are called on to play two contradictory roles: as the moment of origin of the “clash of civilizations” (exemplified by the Crusades); or as the age of convivencia— an idealized vision of the harmonious coexistence of the three “peoples of the Book.”

The work of our contributors reveals instead the complexity of the interactions between religious, “ethnic,” local, regional, genealogical, class, and other identities—oscillating, according to circumstances, between the poles of pragmatism and ideology, and including the deployment of what we would now call “strategic essentialisms.”

This conference brought together the participants and visiting faculty of the Residential Research Group “The Emergence of “the West”: Shifting Hegemonies in the Medieval Mediterranean,” which convened in Fall 2007 at the University of California Humanities Research Institute.