Mediterranean Identities in the Premodern Era: Entrepôts, Islands, Empires, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Mediterranean Identities in the Premodern Era

Entrepôts, Islands, Empires, 1st Edition

Edited by John Watkins, Kathryn L. Reyerson


286 pages

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The first full length volume to approach the premodern Mediterranean from a fully interdisciplinary perspective, this collection defines the Mediterranean as a coherent region with distinct patterns of social, political, and cultural exchange. The essays explore the production, modification, and circulation of identities based on religion, ethnicity, profession, gender, and status as free or slave within three distinctive Mediterranean geographies: islands, entrepôts and empires. Individual essays explore such topics as interreligious conflict and accommodation; immigration and diaspora; polylingualism; classical imitation and canon formation; traffic in sacred objects; Mediterranean slavery; and the dream of a reintegrated Roman empire. Integrating environmental, social, political, religious, literary, artistic, and linguistic concerns, this collection offers a new model for approaching a distinct geographical region as a unique site of cultural and social exchange.


'Mediterranean Identities covers a remarkable variety of social geographies and identities, in both Christian- and Muslim-held territories, aptly reflecting the complexities of the region itself. The editors have assembled an impressive breadth of authors from across multiple disciplines and national traditions, all of whom handle the intricacies of their subjects with subtlety and rigor.' Julia Schleck, University of Nebraska, Lincoln and author of Telling True Tales of Islamic Lands: Forms of Mediation in English Travel Writing

'… the volume's essays emphasize the flexibility, contextualized nature, multiplicity, and performativity of premodern identity. … These fourteen diverse essays speak to vital issues in the current study of the medieval Mediterranean, and those interested in either the premodern Mediterranean or in the concept of identity will want to consult this volume.' Medieval Review

'This volume of readable, well-edited, and engaging essays covers considerable ground in proving the truth of its editors' claims … [this is a] diverse and thoughtfully curated collection. It should be a boon to any reader with an interest in the diversity and interdependency of Mediterranean identities in the premodern world.' Parergon

'This stimulating collection of essays about Mediterranean identities … exemplifies the benefits of interdisciplinary approaches. The editors are distinguished experts in the study of the history of identities, and they have assembled a strong team of contributors.' Journal of Early Modern History

Table of Contents

Contents: Mediterranean identities in the premodern era: entrepôts, islands and empires, John Watkins and Kathryn L. Reyerson. Part I Entrepôts: The material culture of medieval Venetian identity, David M. Perry; Language and identity in the early modern Mediterranean, Eric R. Dursteler; Hybrid identities: ethnicity, religion, and the Janissaries in 16th-century Constantinople, Cameron W. Bradley; Jonson’s Volpone and the information economy of Anglo-Venetian travel and intelligence, Mark Netzloff. Part II Islands: ’This island of many natural riches and many peoples’: geography, population, and the economic identities of Norman Sicily, Timothy Smit; The role of rhetoric and diplomacy in the creation of Muslim identity in 15th-century Rhodes, Theresa M. Vann; Enchained in paradise: slave identities on the island of Mallorca, ca. 1360-1390, Kevin Mummey. Part III Empires: Identity formation of the bureaucracy of the early Islamic state: ’Abd al-HamÄ«d’s ’letter to the secretaries’, Wadad Kadi (al-Qāḍī): Charlemagne’s Mediterranean empire, Bernard S. Bachrach; Identities in the Crusader East, James G. Schryver; Tatar-Turkish captivity and conversion in early modern Ukrainian songs, Galina I. Yermolenko; Muslim conversion to Christianity in the early modern period: Arabic texts, European contexts, Nabil Matar; The Game of Canes from the Lusus Troiae to the Albanian Stradioti: defining Moorish and Classical in the early modern Spanish Mediterranean, Javier Irigoyen-García; Botanical and racial hybridity in the Commentarios reales of el Inca Garcilaso, Ronald E. Surtz. Index.

About the Editors

John Watkins is Distinguished McKnight University Professor of at the University of Minnesota, USA. Kathryn L. Reyerson is Professor of History at the University of Minnesota, USA.

About the Series

Transculturalisms, 1400-1700

This series presents studies of the early modern contacts and exchanges among the states, polities and entrepreneurial organizations of Europe; Asia, including the Levant and East India/Indies; Africa; and the Americas. Books investigate travellers, merchants and cultural inventors, including explorers, mapmakers, artists and writers, as they operated in political, mercantile, sexual and linguistic economies. We encourage authors to reflect on their own methodologies in relation to issues and theories relevant to the study of transculturism/translation and transnationalism. We are particularly interested in work on and from the perspective of the Asians, Africans, and Americans involved in these interactions, and on such topics as:

-Material exchanges, including textiles, paper and printing, and technologies of knowledge

-Movements of bodies: embassies, voyagers, piracy, enslavement

-Travel writing: its purposes, practices, forms and effects on writing in other genres

-Belief systems: religions, philosophies, sciences

-Translations: verbal, artistic, philosophical

-Forms of transnational violence and its representations.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / Medieval