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Alexandria, 1898: Nodes, Networks, and Scales in Nineteenth-Century Egypt and the Mediterranean

  • Lucia Carminati (a1)

In October 1898, the Italian vice-consul in Alexandria charged a group of Italians with participating in an anarchist plot to attack German Emperor Wilhelm II during his planned tour through Egypt and Palestine. This collective arrest produced unexpected outcomes, left a trail of multi-lingual documents, and illuminated specific forms of late nineteenth-century Mediterranean migration. Anarchists were among those who frequently crossed borders and they were well aware of and connected to what was happening elsewhere: they sent letters, circulated manifestos, raised and transported money, and helped fugitive comrades. They maintained nodes of subversion and moved along circuits of solidarity. Similarly, diplomats of Europe, Cairo, Istanbul, and local consular officials operated across borders and cooperated to hunt anarchists down. By following people who were on the move on boats, in post offices, and in taverns, I make a methodological and historiographical argument. First, I examine the Mediterranean as a space of flows and show how the Maghreb/Mashreq divide in Middle Eastern history has concealed webs and connections. Because anarchists and authorities acted on multiple fronts simultaneously, so must scholarship of this part of the world take account of several histories at once. Second, I look beyond the micro-macro binary to emphasize the interconnections and mutual implications of the micro, the macro, and everything in between. I highlight competing, intersecting, and even contradictory trajectories of some of these anarchist migrants’ belonging. As the affair of the bombs unfolded, all of these contradictions and scales of analysis became visible at once.

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Comparative Studies in Society and History
  • ISSN: 0010-4175
  • EISSN: 1475-2999
  • URL: /core/journals/comparative-studies-in-society-and-history
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