Article proposals are being accepted for “Mediterranean Voyages”, a special issue of Mediterranean Studies, a publication of the Mediterranean Studies Association.
The Mediterranean, as Fernand Braudel taught us to see it, is a world in itself, a single great body of water connecting mountains, deserts, valleys and plains to one another. To speak of the Mediterranean, then, is to refer simultaneously to geology, geography, history, art, architecture, languages, literature, technology, sociology and anthropology, all within a space that has been transformed into a concept by the human experience of it. That experience is synonymous with the voyage, for our knowledge of the Mediterranean has emerged from the movement of people through its lands and across its waters. As they move, Mediterranean voyagers leave fragments of themselves, of their material cultures, of their ideas, as records of their travels, their points of departure, their various courses, their many purposes, their possible meanings. These fragments, too, move ceaselessly through and beyond the Mediterranean, making it into a culture of migration and mobility, even as whole populations within it remain sendentary.
How are we to discuss the Mediterranean voyage in its specificity? Certainly, its characteristics are elusive. The Odyssey tells the story of Odysseus’s decade-long Mediterranean journey, in which he claims to have visited the Lotus Eaters, the Laestrygonians, and the Cyclopes, and to have reached the entrance of Hades itself. Can we use a fictional account such as this to recover real information about archaic Greek naval practices, allowing us to characterize the Mediterranean nature of voyages with greater precision? Or are we more likely to identify the characteristics of the Mediterranean voyage with Odysseus’s journey of self-exploration, an inspiration to writers from Vergil to Dante, from James Joyce to Nikos Kazantzakis, from Derek Walcott to Margaret Atwood? The use of qanats, underground water distribution tunnels developed in Persia during the time of the Acheamenid Empire, spread to the Mediterranean during Roman and Byzantine times. Because this system is defined by, and depends for its success on, all-important factors of human interface and local social cohesion, are we to consider it a Mediterranean technology when we find it in Mediterranean cultures? When did the Visigoths cease being Germanic to become Mediterranean? Did France, Spain and Portugal become less Mediterranean when they devoted marine resources to transatlantic voyages during the Age of Discovery? What is the role of the Mediterranean voyager in articulating differences among Mediterranean histories, traditions and practices? How does the Mediterranean voyage differ from voyages across other waters, through other lands and into other spaces?
Responses to these questions help to define the Mediterranean voyage, but they also raise additional questions. What are the indispensable constituents of a Mediterranean voyage? What are the technologies that, in their diffusion throughout the region, have contributed to the making of the Mediterranean as a concept? What are the political, economic, social and even psychological consequences of the periodic swerves of Mediterranean cultures away from voyages through the body of water they share and toward other spaces? Who migrates in the Mediterranean world, and beyond it, and what prompts the migration? Who remains sedentary and why?
The purpose of this special issue of Mediterranean Studies is to generate a discussion of the Mediterranean voyage as a way of eludicating the field of Mediterranean Studies today.
The deadline for articles of 15 to 25 pages in English is January 1, 2014. Submissions will be peer-reviewed by an interdisciplinary panel of scholars using a double blind process. Final drafts of accepted articles are due on June 30, 2015. The anticipated publication date for the special issue is Fall 2016.
Please direct inquiries, proposals and articles to Susan L. Rosenstreich at email@example.com.