Diasporic Legacies of the Mediterranean

April 27-28, University of Minnesota
Fifteenth-century nautical Portolan Chart showing the Mediterranean Basin and surrounding littorals. Huntington Library HM 1549.
Event Date & Time
- |
Event Location
University of Minnesota Twin Cities Campus

1210 Heller Hall, 271 S 19th Ave
Minneapolis, MN 55455

The Center for Premodern Studies at University of Minnesota is hosting the Spring 2023 Mediterranean Seminar Workshop "Diasporic Legacies of the Mediterranean." Keynote lectures are free and open to the public.


Thursday, April 27

Julia Cohen

Associate Professor of History and Jewish Studies at Vanderbilt University        

4:00 pm, Heller 1210 and virtual

Title: "Madame Luna's Mediterranean"

Abstract: This talk tells the story of someone you have most certainly never heard of. Her history has left no mark on scholarship; the physical traces of the business she ran over the course of over two decades have similarly disappeared. Even her tombstone no longer exists. Yet in her own day, Madame Luna was among the most important figures to constitute—and sustain—the diasporic Mediterranean networks then taking shape in fin-de-siècle Paris. Madame Luna’s was a place people wrote home about—a place that showed up in discussions of philanthropic and political events, in journalists’ reports and in the books of famous authors. In the inn and restaurant she ran in the heart of the French capital, this Ottoman Jewish woman hosted visitors from all over the globe—but most of all people from the eastern and southern shores of the Mediterranean. It was there, in an unassuming building on a small side street, that she fed them familiar foods, connected them, and corresponded with them after they had returned to their homes, or moved on to new locales. Bringing together people from the Ottoman Levant, colonial North Africa, Western Europe and beyond, Madame Luna’s enterprise was both a microcosm and epicenter of a dynamic modern Mediterranean diaspora.

Register in advance for Cohen Zoom Webinar at z.umn.edu/Cohen2023

Friday, April 28

Eric Calderwood

Associate Professor of Comparative Literature & Spanish, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

10:00 am, Heller 1210 and virtual

Title: "The Andalus of the Possible"

Abstract: In an interview with the French newspaper Le Monde in 1983, Palestinian poet Mahmud Darwish called Palestine “the Andalus of the possible.” Taking inspiration from Darwish’s words, this talk asks: what has the memory of al-Andalus (Muslim Iberia) made possible for Palestinian writers and thinkers? Since the early twentieth century, several prominent Palestinian writers have turned to the memory of al-Andalus to reflect on the political plight of their homeland, to decry occupation and cultural erasure, and to imagine a future for Palestine—a future that is, to borrow Darwish’s words, “possible,” if not yet fully realized. Drawing on examples from this long tradition of Palestinian writing about al-Andalus, this talk maps the intersection of two diasporic imaginaries that have crisscrossed the Mediterranean: the Andalusi imaginary and the Palestinian one.

Register in advance for Calderwood Zoom Webinar at z.umn.edu/Calderwood

Supported by UMN Center for Premodern Studies, Center for Jewish Studies, the Amos S. Deinard Memorial Chair in Jewish History, UC Boulder Mediterranean Studies Group

Mediterranean Studies has shown that the Mediterranean has been a site of travel, trade, and the movement of peoples for millennia. Various religious, ethnic, and linguistic communities claim the Mediterranean as part of their identity—even if only a distant chapter from the past. This seminar aims to bring together scholars interested in diasporas in the Mediterranean context and their impact on and representation in history, historiography, political writing, literature, and the arts. We will explore how diaspora and diasporic communities and their cultural production can be read from the perspective of Mediterranean Studies, addressing questions such as: How does the Mediterranean past—real and imagined—shed light on contemporary concerns around immigration, citizenship, and the allocation of natural resources? How are diasporas such as those caused, for example, by the expulsion of the Jews from Castile in 1492 or of the Moriscos in 1609 remembered? What impact do they continue to have in the modern era? What other diasporas, coerced or voluntary, have roots in or implications for the Mediterranean and scholars of Mediterranean Studies?  

This workshop will bring together scholars from various disciplines, periods and areas to discuss the nature of these processes and the interaction of peoples of various ethnicities, religions, cultures and ideological perspectives in the Pre- and Early Modern Mediterranean, how these contributed to the notion of Diaspora. 

This workshop is sponsored by the  Center for Premodern Studies, the Center for Jewish Studies and Amos S. Deinard Memorial Chair in Jewish History of the University of Minnesota Twin Cities, the CU Mediterranean Studies Group, and the Mediterranean Seminar.

Attendance is for registered participants only. Lunches are included for registered participants. Registration is free and open until April 20, 2023. Please register as soon as possible, as numbers are limited.  Click here to register. 

Laura Feigen (History of Art: The Courtauld Institute)

“Mapping Migration: The Barcelona Haggadah (BL MS Add 14761) As A Material Witness to Sephardi Migration 1391-1459” [abstract]

Moderator: Brian A. Catlos (Religious Studies: CU Boulder)

Respondent: Noam Sienna (Religion: St. Olaf College)

Chris Saladin (History: University of Minnesota, Twin Cities)

“City of Caelestis: Encountering the Punic Past at the Tophet of Roman Carthage” [abstract]

Moderator: Sharon Kinoshita (Literature: UC Santa Cruz)

Respondent: Valerie Ramseyer (History: Wellesley College)

Angela Haddad (Comparative Literature: New York University)

“Syro-Lebanese Translational Narratives around the Caribbean Basin” [abstract]

Moderator: Brian A. Catlos (Religious Studies: CU Boulder)

Respondent: Andrea Pauw (Modern and Classical Languages and Literatures: Christopher Newport University)

Religion, Ethnicity, Nation & Race: How are notions about confessional, national or communal identity shaped by the diasporic experience or represented as diasporic in cultural production?

Moderator: Brian A. Catlos (Religious Studies: CU Boulder)

Respondent: Kay Reyerson (History: University of Minnesota, Twin Cities)

• Fred Astren (Jewish Studies: San Francisco State)

• Kathryn Hain (History: Northeast Community College)

• Susan Shoshan Abraham (Spanish, Italian & Portuguese: University of Virginia)

• Saber Qechai (Eötvös Loránd University)

• Sara Gardner (Spanish and Portuguese Studies: University of Minnesota, Twin Cities)

• David Williams (Interdisciplinary Studies, University of Saint Katherine)

“African,” “European,” “Eastern,” or “Mediterranean” – How are sites (either origins or destinations) of Diaspora depicted and why?

Moderator: Sharon Kinoshita (Literature: UC Santa Cruz)

Respondent: Andrea Sterk (History: University of Minnesota, Twin Cities)

• Heather Badamo (Art History: University of California Santa Barbara)

• Josh Mugler (Hill Museum and Manuscript Library)

• Olatunde Taiwo (History: University of Ghana)

• Alex Korte (Spanish & Portuguese Studies: University of Minnesota, Twin Cities)

• Taryn Marashi (Ausgburg University)

• Valerie Ramseyer (History: Wellesley College)

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