Skip to main content
×
×
Home

Transnational Political Cosmology: A Central Mediterranean Example

  • Naor Ben-Yehoyada (a1)
Abstract

This paper examines the workings of kinship and marriage idioms in transnational political imaginary in the central Mediterranean to challenge current academic reliance on the notion of fraternity as the symbolic building block of both national and global political relations. Since the 1960s, the Sicilian town of Mazara del Vallo and its fishing fleet have become entwined in intensifying interactions with Tunisia and the wider Maghreb. These interactions—specifically the Tunisian-Italian “Fish War” and construction of a trans-Mediterranean natural gas pipeline between North Africa and Europe—rejuvenated the old geopolitical imagination of the Mediterranean and helped produce the central Mediterranean as a spatio-temporal field of political action. Italians and Tunisians perceived each other as related, and staged the trans-Mediterranean infrastructural project as a sort of European-African (cross-cousin) marriage. I begin by examining the tensions between two central kinship idioms—fraternity and cousinage—in current understandings of transnational relations. I then discuss the growing prevalence of a transnational political cosmology of affinity across difference over that of shared descent and sameness that characterize national alignments. I conclude by examining how Tunisians and Sicilians in Mazara today cast each other in roles deriving from segmentary schemes they share, but on the content of which they disagree. By applying concepts associated with kinship and marriage studies to recent Mediterranean history, I show how segmentation, a concept anthropologists abandoned when they crossed the Mediterranean on their way into Europe, can help us understand transnational politics.

Copyright
Corresponding author
naorben@gmail.com
References
Hide All
Anderson, Benedict. 1991. Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism. 2d ed.London: Verso.
Armitage, David. 2009. Three Concepts of Atlantic History. In Armitage, David and Braddick, Michael, eds., The British Atlantic World, 1500–1800. 2d ed.Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan, 1329.
Asad, Talal, Fernandez, James, Herzfeld, Michael, Lass, A., Rogers, S. C., Schneider, Jane, and Verdery, Katherine. 1997. Provocations of European Ethnology. American Anthropologist 99, 4: 713–30.
Ballinger, Pamela. 2011. Adriatic Forum: A Comment. Austrian History Yearbook 42: 5663.
Barbagallo, Francesco. 1989. Potere Politico Ed Economia Assistita Nel Mezzogiorno Repubblicano. Studi Storici 30, 1: 4352.
Beck, Ulrich and Sznaider, Natan. 2006. Unpacking Cosmopolitanism for the Social Sciences: A Research Agenda. British Journal of Sociology 57, 1: 123.
Ben-Yehoyada, Naor. 2011. The Moral Perils of Mediterraneanism: Second-Generation Immigrants Practicing Personhood between Sicily and Tunisia. Journal of Modern Italian Studies 16, 3: 386403.
Blok, Anton. 1981. Rams and Billy-Goats: A Key to the Mediterranean Code of Honour. Man 16, 3: 427–40.
Bromberger, Christian. 2006. Towards an Anthropology of the Mediterranean. History and Anthropology 17, 2: 91107.
Burke, Edmund III. 1998. Theorizing the Histories of Colonialism and Nationalism in the Arab Maghrib. Arab Studies Quarterly 20, 2: 519.
Campbell, John. 1964. Honour, Family, and Patronage: A Study of Institutions and Moral Values in a Greek Mountain Community. Oxford: Clarenon Press.
Canut, Cécile and Smith, Étienne. 2006. Pactes, Alliances et Plaisanteries: Pratiques Locales, Discours Global. Cahiers d'Études Africaines 46, 184: 687754.
Clancy-Smith, Julia. 2011. Mediterraneans: North Africa and Europe in an Age of Migration, c. 1800–1900. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Clarke, Morgan. 2007. The Modernity of Milk Kinship. Social Anthropology 15, 3: 287304.
Cremasco, Maurizio and Luciani, Giacomo. 1985. The Mediterranean Dimension of Italy's Foreign and Security Policy. International Spectator: Italian Journal of International Affairs 20, 1: 2733.
Davis, John. 1977. People of the Mediterranean: An Essay in Comparative Social Anthropology. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.
Dresch, Paul. 1986. The Significance of the Course Events Take in Segmentary Systems. American Ethnologist 13, 2: 309–24.
Dresch, Paul. 1988. Segmentation: Its Roots in Arabia and Its Flowering Elsewhere. Cultural Anthropology 3, 1: 5067.
Dresch, Paul. 1998. Mutual Deception: Totality, Exchange, and Islam in the Middle East. In James, Wendy and Allen, N. J., eds., Marcel Mauss: A Centenary Tribute. New York: Berghahn, 111–34.
Dworkin, Ronald. 1986. Law's Empire. Cambridge: Belknap Press.
Evans-Pritchard, E. E. 1940. The Nuer: A Description of the Modes of Livelihood and Political Institutions of a Nilotic People. New York: Oxford University Press.
Galt, Anthony. 1985. Does the Mediterraneanist Dilemma Have Straw Horns? American Ethnologist 12, 2: 369–71.
Gellner, Ernest. 1981. Muslim Society. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Gellner, Ernest. 1983. Nations and Nationalism. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.
Goswami, Manu. 2002. Rethinking the Modular Nation Form: Toward a Sociohistorical Conception of Nationalism. Comparative Studies in Society and History 44, 4: 770–99.
Greene, Molly. 2002. Beyond the Northern Invasion: The Mediterranean in the Seventeenth Century. Past & Present 174: 4271.
Guyer, Jane. 2004. Anthropology in Area Studies. Annual Review of Anthropology 33: 499523.
Hannachi, Karim. 1998. Gli immigrati tunisini a mazara del vallo: inserimento o integrazione. Gibellina: CRESM.
Hayes, Mark. 2006. The Transmed and Maghreb Projects: Gas to Europe from North Africa. In Victor, David, Jaffe, Amy, and Hayes, Mark, eds., Natural Gas and Geopolitics: From 1970 to 2040. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 4990.
Herzfeld, Michael. 1987. Anthropology through the Looking-Glass: Critical Ethnography in the Margins of Europe. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Herzfeld, Michael. 2003. Localism and the Logic of Nationalistic Folklore: Cretan Reflections. Comparative Studies in Society and History 45, 2: 281310.
Herzfeld, Michael. 2005a. Practical Mediterraneanisms. In Harris, William V., ed., Rethinking the Mediterranean. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 4563.
Herzfeld, Michael. 2005b. Cultural Intimacy: Social Poetics in the Nation-State. 2d ed.New York: Routledge.
Horden, Peregrine and Purcell, Nicholas. 2000. The Corrupting Sea: A Study of Mediterranean History. Oxford: Blackwell.
Horden, Peregrine and Purcell, Nicholas. 2006. The Mediterranean and ‘the New Thalassology.’ American Historical Review 111, 3: 722–40.
Lentini, Rosario. 2004. La Marineria e le Attività Produttive: Note sulla Storia dell'Economia Mazarese. In Cusumano, Antonino and Lentini, Rosario, eds., Mazara 800–900: Ragionamenti intorno all'Identità di una CittÀ. 2d ed.Palermo: Sigma, 199226.
Lieberman, Victor. 2008. Protected Rimlands and Exposed Zones: Reconfiguring Premodern Eurasia. Comparative Studies in Society and History 50, 3: 692723.
Löfgren, Orvar. 2004. Concrete Transnationalism Bridge Building in the New Economy. Focaal 43: 5776.
Mahmud, Lilith. 2014. The Brotherhood of Freemason Sisters: Gender, Secrecy, and Fraternity in Italian Masonic Lodges. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
McKinnon, Susan and Cannell, Fenella. 2013. Vital Relations: Modernity and the Persistent Life of Kinship. Santa Fe: School for Advanced Research Press.
Messina, Giuseppe. 1994. La Pesca nel Diritto Interno ed Internazionale. Palermo: Istituto Siciliano di Studi Politici ed Economici.
Pace, Michelle. 2007. The Politics of Regional Identity: Meddling with the Mediterranean. New York: Routledge.
Parkes, Peter. 2001. Alternative Social Structures and Foster Relations in the Hindu Kush: Milk Kinship Allegiance in Former Mountain Kingdoms of Northern Pakistan. Comparative Studies in Society and History 43, 1: 436.
Parkes, Peter. 2003. Fostering Fealty: A Comparative Analysis of Tributary Allegiances of Adoptive Kinship. Comparative Studies in Society and History 45, 4: 741–82.
Peebles, Gustav. 2011. The Euro and Its Rivals: Money and the Construction of a Transnational City. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
Péristiany, John. 1966. Honour and Shame: The Values of Mediterranean Society. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson.
Perrone, Nico. 1995. Obiettivo Mattei: Petrolio, Stati Uniti e Politica dell'ENI. Roma: Gamberetti.
Pitt-Rivers, Julian Alfred. 1963. Mediterranean Countrymen: Essays in the Social Anthropology of the Mediterranean. Paris: Mouton.
Pitt-Rivers, Julian Alfred. 1977. The Fate of Shechem: Or, the Politics of Sex: Essays in the Anthropology of the Mediterranean. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Polara, Giorgio Frasca. 1973. Metanodotto Dall'Algeria. L'Unità, 4 June: 4.
Polara, Giorgio Frasca. 1977. ENI E Snam Confermano Gli Impegni. L'Unità, 27 July, Le Regioni: 11.
Redazione. 1975a. Oggi I Funerali Del Giovane Marittimo Salvatore Foraneo. L'Unità, 7 Oct.: 6.
Redazione. 1975b. Migliaia Di Pescatori E Cittadini Ieri Ai Funerali Di Salvatore Foraneo. L'Unità, 8 Oct.: 6.
Sahlins, Marshall. 2011. What Kinship Is (Part One). Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 17, 1: 219.
Schiller, Nina Glick. 2005. Transnational Social Fields and Imperialism. Anthropological Theory 5, 4: 439–61.
Schneider, David. 1977. Kinship, Nationality, and Religion in American Culture: Toward a Definition of Kinship. In Dolgin, Janet, Kemnitzer, David, and Schneider, David, eds., Symbolic Anthropology: A Reader in the Study of Symbols and Meanings. New York: Columbia University Press, 6371.
Schneider, Jane. 1971. Of Vigilance and Virgins: Honor, Shame and Access to Resources in Mediterranean Societies. Ethnology 10, 1: 124.
Schneider, Jane. 1990. Spirits and the Spirit of Capitalism. In Religious Orthodoxy and Popular Faith in European Society. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2454.
Schneider, Jane. 1998. Italy's Southern Question: Orientalism in One Country. Oxford and New York: Berg.
Shore, Cris. 1993. Inventing the ‘People's Europe’: Critical Approaches to European Community ‘Cultural Policy.’ Man 28, 4: 779800.
Shryock, Andrew. 1997. Nationalism and the Genealogical Imagination: Oral History and Textual Authority in Tribal Jordan. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Silverman, Sydel. 2001. Defining the Anthropological Mediterranean: Before Aix 1966. In Albera, Dionigi, Blok, Anton, and Bromberger, Christian, eds., L'anthropologie de La Méditerranée = Anthropology of the Mediterranean. Paris: Maisonneuve et Larose, 4357.
Silverstein, Paul. 2002. France's Mare Nostrum: Colonial and Post-Colonial Constructions of the French Mediterranean. Journal of North African Studies 7, 4: 122.
Silvestri, Stefano. 1968. Problems and Prospects of the Mediterranean Area. Lo Spettatore 3, 2: 148–56.
Smail, Daniel and Shryock, Andrew. 2011. Deep History: The Architecture of Past and Present. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Stancanelli, Bianca. 1978. E Se Il Metano per La Sicilia Diventasse Soltanto Un Tubo? L'Unità, 16 July, Le Regioni: 9.
Stevens, Paul. 2000. Pipelines or Pipe Dreams? Lessons from the History of Arab Transit Pipelines. Middle East Journal 54, 2: 224–41.
Tabak, Faruk. 2008. The Waning of the Mediterranean, 1550–1870: A Geohistorical Approach. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.
Trautmann, Thomas R. 2001. The Whole History of Kinship Terminology in Three Chapters: Before Morgan, Morgan, and after Morgan. Anthropological Theory 1, 2: 268–87.
Tsing, Anna. 2000. The Global Situation. Cultural Anthropology 15, 3: 327–60.
Vasile, Vincenzo. 1975. Provocatoria Incursione Fascista Ad Una Assemblea Di Pescatori. L'Unità, 9 Oct.: 6.
Verdery, Katherine. 1998. Transnationalism, Nationalism, Citizenship, and Property: Eastern Europe since 1989. American Ethnologist 25, 2: 291306.
Viveiros de Castro, Eduardo. 2004. Perspectival Anthropology and the Method of Controlled Equivocation. Tipití 2, 1: 220.
Wigen, Kären. 2006. Oceans of History. American Historical Review 111, 3: 717–21.
Zamberletti, Giuseppe. 1979. Seduta Di Martedì. 16 Oct. Rome: VI Legislatura—Discussioni.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Comparative Studies in Society and History
  • ISSN: 0010-4175
  • EISSN: 1475-2999
  • URL: /core/journals/comparative-studies-in-society-and-history
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Related content

Powered by UNSILO

Metrics

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed