The Mediterranean and its Metaphors
Title: The Mediterranean and its Metaphors
Author: ROY, Olivier
Series/Report no.: EUI RSCAS DL; 2009/02; Mediterranean Programme Series
When referring to the Mediterranean sea, politicians, writers and religious leaders make frequent use of often contradictory metaphors: cradle of civilizations, and more precisely of the monotheist Abrahamic religion, bridge that crosses the water, rift opposing two different worlds. History also provides a lot of paradigms that are used metaphorically: Andalucia, Crusades, Jihad etc. All these metaphors are framed under the paradigm of the clash/ dialogue of civilization, which supposes a permanent link between religion, culture, History and territory, finally embodied by the Westphalian state, but also by the late Ottoman empire, where religious minorities are put under the patronage of foreign powers and international treaties. But these metaphors and historical paradigms are cut from their context and often based on distortion and ignorance of real History. More importantly they do not fit with the present patterns of mobility and deterritorialization around the Mediterranean sea: disconnect between religion and culture, multiple citizenships, demographic fluxes that are less and less identified with a labour migration to the West. The process of the European construction runs against the paradigm of the nation state and is more in tune with contemporary forms of mobility. Often mocked and despised, the evolutive and elusive European Union, where flexibility and bureaucracy make strange but already mature bed-fellows, could perfectly deal with our Mediterranean complexity. Instead of aping the nation-state or dreaming of past empires, Europe could look positively as its own incompletion, a better tool to manage fluxes, de-territorialization and globalization.
Subject: Mediterranean sea; Europe; history; religion; civilization; Union for the Mediterranean
Type of Access: openAccess