This collection of essays on Trans-Mediterranean Francospheres offers an original examination of cultural production and the flows between urban capitals and “capital” in and of a selection of Mediterranean cities and sites. In three parts, the book covers both familiar and overlooked terrain, in chapters which examine writing the city, the transit between different poles, film and EU designated cultural capitals. The collection therefore brings together texts and their critical readings in new comparative ways. Following Jacques Derrida’s peregrinations in L’Autre Cap (1991), the volume interrogates the what of Europe; the when or where of Paris; the who of the Mediterranean. Or might the Mediterranean fall under the rubric of paleonomy, that is, as Michael Naas recalls Derrida’s words in Positions: “the ‘strategic’ necessity that requires the occasional maintenance of an old name in order to launch a new concept.”
Taking this forward, we understand the Mediterranean as an old name to launch a new concept and the essays in the book each reflect on this in different ways. Issues concerning identity are challenged, since a Metropolitan, European, Arab or African identity may be preferred over a Mediterranean one. As borders become reinforced in the region, trans-Mediterranean bridging narratives may be thwarted, especially by those who write across Europe, Africa and the Middle East, in the face of the contemporary refugee crisis. Finally, chapters explore what it means to define a Mediterranean city—such as Marseille as European Capital of Culture—and interrogate how this feeds into the cultural production of a city whose multi-ethnic identities are as outward-looking towards North Africa as they are inward towards the French capital.
Contributors: Silvia Baage, Marzia Caporale, Angela Giovanangeli, Mark Ingram, Christa Jones, Gemma King, Claire Launchbury, Megan C. MacDonald, Agnès Peysson-Zeiss, Ipek Çelik Rappas, Alison Rice, Rania Said
“This edited volume breathes new life into our understanding of cultural exchanges in the Mediterranean. The contributors' inventive attention to the 'Francosphère' revives debates around postcolonial cultural production in its myriad interdisciplinary expressions."
Claudia Esposito, University of Massachusetts-Boston