Year in Review 2013-2014

The UC Mediterranean Studies Multi-Campus Research Project Initiative completed an extremely successful fourth year, continuing our rich core program of workshops integrating faculty and graduate students from various UC campuses and broadening our collaborative base with US and foreign institutions, and scholars from a range of disciplines the world over. We now count nearly 800 scholars world-wide as affiliated members. We have organized a series of conferences, panels, and workshops and have submitted a proposal for our fourth NEH Summer Institute. A number of publications have resulted or are in process, including new research, theoretical work, and pedagogical material (notably an undergraduate textbook). We remain at the forefront of the emerging field of Mediterranean Studies, with our reputation firmly established on an international scale.

Core Program

In 2013-2014, the UC Mediterranean Studies MRPI once again successfully carried out its core program of three quarterly workshops, each organized around a special theme, rotating among UC and affiliated campuses. All were held in conjunction with separate thematically-related events organized by the host campus. Attendance was capped at 35 to accommodate the workshop format (although actual attendance at times exceeded this limit). Attendees at each event consisted of a core of UC faculty and graduate students together with scholars from other local and national institutions.

  • Fall: “Translation,” UC Berkeley (November 16, 2013), co-organized with Ignacio Navarrete (UCB Spanish & Portuguese), and co-sponsored by the Townsend Center for the Humanities. Plenary Speaker: Karla Mallette, Romance Languages & Near Eastern Studies, University of Michigan, “Against Translation: The Cosmopolitan Language as Literary Medium”
  • Winter: “Minorities,” San Francisco SU (March 8, 2014), co-organized with Fred Astren (Jewish Studies, SFSU), co-sponsored by the SFSU departments of Comparative and World Literature, History, Jewish Studies, and Foreign Languages and Literatures (Spanish Program). Plenary Speaker: Stephen Humphreys, History, UC Santa Barbara, “Adapting to the Infidel: the Christian Communities of Syria in the Early Islamic Period”
  • Spring: “Connectivities,” Loyola Marymount University (May 4, 2013), co-organized by Andrew Devereux, History, LMU in conjunction with the conference “Power Relations & Religious Communities in the Western Mediterranean” organized by the Spain-North Africa Project (SNAP). Plenary Speaker: Adam Sabra, History, UCSB
  • Complementary Programming

    In 2013-2014, we co-sponsored “Light/Colour/Line: Perceiving the Mediterranean,” the 5th International Conference of Mediterranean Worlds, held at the University of Bern (Switzerland), 9-11 September 2013, and a one-day conference, “History, Literature and Culture in a Mediterranean Frame” at the Sant’Anna Institute, Sorrento (Italy), 15 June 2014; it sponsored two sessions on “Religious Diversity in the Medieval Mediterranean” at the American Historical Association (AHA) Annual Meeting in January 2014.

    The Year Ahead (2013-14)

    Dates and venues for the upcoming academic year are in place or being confirmed: Fall (November 7-8) at UC Santa Barbara, in conjunction with a half-day symposium on Mediterranean Land and Sea, co-organized by UCSB campus rep Edward English (History) and co-sponsored by the UCSB Center for Medieval Studies (Plenary speaker: Julia Clancy-Smith, University of Arizona); Winter (January 30-31) at UC Davis, co-organized by UC Davis campus rep Baki Tezcan (Religious Studies and History), in conjunction with a one-day Western Ottomanists Workshop (WOW) meeting on “Trade” (Plenary speaker: Molly Greene, Princeton University); Spring (dates TBD) at UC San Diego, co-organized by UC Davis campus rep Oumelbanine Zhiri (Literature), organized with an event TBA (Plenary speaker: Mercedes García Arenal, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, Madrid, Spain). In addition, we have secured a place for panels at MESA (2014) and the AHA (2015) and have tendered an application for our fourth NEH Summer Institute, “Negotiating Identities: Expression and Representation in the Christian-Jewish-Muslim Mediterranean” ($199K).

    Outreach and Outside Collaboration

    The Mediterranean Seminar/UCMRPI continues to aggressively pursue opportunities for outside collaboration and new associates for our group. At present we have nearly 800 affiliated scholars worldwide and dozens of collaborating institutions and projects. In 2012–13, we co-organized events with San Francisco State University and Loyola Marymount University, and intensified our collaborations with the Mediterranean initiatives at the University of Colorado at Boulder, Université de Paris I, the University of Exeter (UK), the University of the Eastern Mediterranean (Cyprus), and the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. We have also continued discussions with Mediterranean groups at Harvard University and the CNRS in Naples, Italy.

    We anticipate new collaborations to be launched this year with the new Center for the Study of Conversion and Inter-Religious Encounters, directed by Harvey Hames (Ben Gurion University of the Negev, Israel), and with project “Power and Institutions in Medieval Islam and Christianity,” directed by Ana Rodríguez López (CSIC, Madrid). We have also begun talks to prepare to apply for a major collaborative project in the digital Humanities in collaboration with the Université de Paris I, Université de Lyon, and CSIC Barcelona.

    Project Output (2013-14)

    The workshop facilitates the publication by our members and associates of innovative interdisciplinary research in peer-reviewed journals and academic houses. Direct output includes our new monograph series, Mediterranean Studies (Palgrave MacMillan), The Sea in the Middle (a Mediterranean history textbook which is going under contract with Bedford/ St. Martins), Can We Talk Mediterranean? (based on our Spring 2012 round-table, in progress), the Companion to Mediterranean History (co-edited by Kinoshita with Peregrine Horden, Blackwell, 2014), and Paradoxes of Plurality: Ethno-Religious Diversity in the Pre-Modern Mediterranean (a theoretical study by Catlos, in progress).