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Title: Review article navigating an anthropology of the Mediterranean : recent developments in France
Authors: Sant Cassia, Paul
Keywords: Anthropology -- Research
Anthropology -- France
National characteristics, Mediterranean
Issue Date: 2003
Publisher: Routledge
Citation: Sant Cassia, P. (2003). Review article navigating an anthropology of the Mediterranean: recent developments in France. History and Anthropology, 14(1), 87-94.
Abstract: Ever since the critiques levelled at a Mediterranean anthropology by anthropologists in the late 1980s and early 1990s (e.g., Pina Cabral 1989; Herzfeld 1980, 1984, 1987), it has almost been politically incorrect for anthropologists working in Mediterranean countries to contemplate pan-Mediterraneanisms. This has certainly not been a problem for historians. Horden’s and Purcell’s recent book The Corrupting Sea, subtitled A Study of Mediterranean History (2000), attempts with some degree of elan to produce a synthesis of some three millennia of Mediterranean history. It is therefore encouraging that French anthropology has not been sufficiently overawed by the new orthodoxy to attempt some degree of critical appraisal of the concept, history and potential of an anthropology of the Mediterranean. In 1966, a dozen anthropologists working in the Mediterranean met at Aix-en-Provence to discuss their findings. Some thirty years later, in 1997, the University of Aix (Marseilles) convened a large conference bringing together scholars from Europe, North Africa and the United States to discuss whether an anthropology of the Mediterranean was still a viable prospect. To be sure, French interest in the anthropology of the Mediterranean is not independent of contemporary geo-political concerns. For example, the French Government is worried that the eastward expansion of the European Union may detract from its Western and Southern European dimensions. A new museum of Europe and the Mediterranean is to be established in Marseilles. This will involve the relocation and expansion of the old Parisbased Musee des Arts et Traditions Populaires established in 1937 to collect the customs of La France Profonde.
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