The (Post-)Ottoman Mediterranean: Struggles over Diversity between Imperial Aspirations and Local Affirmations, 1860–1960
Ottomanism, (Pan-) Arab Nationalism, Zionism, Phoenicianism or the Greek megali idea…it is striking to see the variety of concepts about the socio-political, cultural and spatial order that were debated in the Eastern Mediterranean during the 19th and 20th centuries. This section aims to capture and contrast snapshots of various struggles about the imperial and post-imperial reshaping of the region in the time between the Crimean War and the Suez Crisis. Agents appropriated intellectual categories and practices both of diversity and exclusivity. These processes of negotiation sometimes resulted in temporarily successful modes of managing diversity, at other times in catastrophic disentanglement. The section proposes the approach of “reflexive area studies” in order to bridge the gap between the often divided Area Studies and other disciplines.
The paper will deal with the question of Mediterranean cosmopolitanism in the Eastern Mediterranean in the late 19th century. It will argue that nineteenth century residents of the region did not claim to enjoy a colorblind, egalitarian socio-political order. Instead, they perceived the interconnectedness and diversity of their region as its major assets. Only once nationalism gained discursive hegemony did its opponents conflate cosmopolitanism with imperialism in order to eradicate the former.
This paper discusses Eastern Thrace in general, and the locality of Dimetoka (nowadays Didymoteicho), in particular, as sites of sequential ethnic cleansing during the Balkan Wars (1912-13) and in their aftermath. It aims to present and discuss the events that took place in this area by placing them in the context of the macro- and micro-historical transformation triggered by the Balkan Wars. The presentation contextualizes the exclusion of non-Muslims as part of the Ottoman embracing of the ideal of the national community, increasingly defined by religion and ethnic origins, and the retracing of communal borders that occurred following the Ottoman defeat in the Balkan Wars.
During the 1920s and 1930s, tourist mobility in the Mediterranean created a space of communication allowing local actors to present their demands to mostly European tourists. It will be argued that in Mandate Palestine, the narrative patterns of “heritage” and “modernity” gained a particular relevance, as Zionist, European, and Palestinian tour agencies and guides confronted visitors with competing visions of Palestine’s socio-spatial order. The analysis of narratives, tourism advertisement strategies, and tour itineraries suggests that the emerging segregated tourist spaces ultimately benefitted the Zionist project and relegated Palestinian claims to the past.
This paper will zoom in on the Afro-Palestinian community of Jerusalem between 1860 and 1960. Raed Bader will analyse how, in the second half of the 19th century, Jerusalem became open to foreign consulates and minorities from across the Mediterranean. While the Holy City absorbed the new sects and minorities, even those who first came only temporarily, the example of the African community of Jerusalem demonstrates that political and social integration in a period of radical transformation was a great challenge for both sides.
This paper will deal with Arab claims of sovereignty in the context of decolonization. By focussing on Egypt and Lebanon and their humanitarian relief activities from the 1940s to the 1960s, it will argue that by insisting on their roles not of beneficiaries, but of donors of help to others, both states and their respective societies affirmed their own political and cultural understandings of sovereignty in the Eastern Mediterranean. While Lebanese actors rather stressed the link with Western humanitarian and political institutions, the Egyptians emphasized their autonomy towards the West, but in close connection to the regional Arab context.