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Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Call For Papers:

"Rough Waters":
The United States' Involvement in the Mediterranean during the Late Eighteenth Century and Early Nineteenth Century"

International Conference organised by the Centre de la Méditerranée Moderne et Contemporaine, University of Nice, France

Nice, 17 - 18 October 2008

Scientific committee:

Silvia Marzagalli (professeur d'histoire moderne, CMMC, Université de Nice)

John J. McCusker (Ewing Halsell Distinguished Professor of American History
and Professor of Economics, Trinity University, San Antonio, USA)

Allan Potofski (maître de conférence habilité, Université de Paris 8)

James R. Sofka (Adjunct Faculty, Federal Executive Institute, Charlottesville

François Weil (directeur d'études, EHESS, Paris)

American naval operations during the two world wars, followed by the Sixth
Fleet's half-century of stable presence in the Mediterranean, amply demonstrate
the involvement of the United States in this space, and its acute interest is
bound to grow in the future. Beginning in the seventeenth century, New England
ships and sailors frequented the western rim of the Mediterranean, protected by
the British fleet. But the independence of the thirteen colonies created new
challenges for the United States: How to assure the security of the ships
against Berber corsairs? How to react to news of the enslavement of United
States citizens? How to organize an efficient consular service permitting the
circulation of information between distant areas, especially in light of the
limited means of communications during this epoch? Which products, which
marketplaces, which ports, deserved the particular attention of American
armatures and merchants? What commercial strategies to adopt in the
Mediterranean, above all, during the revolutionary and Napoleon's wars that
opened a golden age for the American merchant marine? This conference proposes
to study how the arrival of a new power in the Mediterranean modified the
balance of power of this space, and how the American political and economic
actors fit into the region's geopolitics. From the eighteenth to the beginning
of the nineteenth century, the majority of these questions remain largely
without a response, for reasons that have to do with historiographical fashions
that have privileged Atlantic studies, as well as with the difficulty in
retrieving and exploiting adequate source material.

The arrival of the United States in the Mediterranean was the last episode of
early-modern Europe's domination of the region's commerce by the Atlantic
powers. Incursions of Northern Europe's ships and merchants beyond the Rock of
Gibraltar after the thirteenth century modified the commercial and political
dynamic of the Mediterranean world in a radical manner. Starting with the
second half of the sixteenth century, the Atlantic powers took increasing
control of the navigation across the sea, and merchants established a growing
presence in the principal ports where they were prominent in the most lucrative
markets. The consolidation of North European commercial interests was
accompanied by intense diplomatic activity to establish privileged relations
with the nations of the Mediterranean rim, and to protect themselves against
the exactions of the Berber corsairs, eventually by the ratification of
successive treaties. These choices generated complex geopolitical
calculations: the Senate of Hamburg, imperial city and meeting place for
exchanges in the North Sea, preferred to relinquish all navigation in the
Mediterranean in order not to compromise its relationships with Spain, then
violently hostile to any agreements with the Berber corsairs, with whom the
Hanseatic city had developed close commercial relations during the sixteenth to
the seventeenth centuries. The English and Dutch, followed by the Swedes and
Danes, penetrated deeply in the Mediterranean and their merchants sought to
obtain advantageous commercial conditions with certain nations and to secure
reliable intermediaries along the coast and the islands of the sea. As the
United States began to develop national independence, its officers and
merchants blazed a path through this complex universe, while taking advantage
of the experience of Europeans by amassing increasing amounts of practical

We intend to analyze how the young American republic comprehended and invested
in the Mediterranean Sea just after Independence. Also, we will examine how
the geopolitical interests in this space were represented to shape policy
orientations in a decisive manner. If diplomatic aspects and Jefferson's
Barbary War (1801-1805) have attracted the attention of scholars, the economic
aspects and the implantation of a consular service still remain neglected. This
conference will allow researchers to take stock of our understanding of
Mediterranean history and to open up new directions in historical research. It
has as an ambition to serve as a basis for future scholarship, notably, on the
consular service and on the circulation of information about the Mediterranean
outside of the immediate area: these will constitute the two major themes of
research engaged by the Centre de la Méditerranée Moderne et Contemporaine in
Nice, France in its program for 2008-2011.

We particularly encourage submission of paper proposals on diplomatic aspects,
on the attitude of different European and Northern African powers towards
American presence within the Mediterranean, on economic issues and
entrepreneurial strategies at work, as well as on the representations of the
Mediterranean world in the US.

Paper proposals (in English or French) should be sent by e-mail to Silvia
Marzagalli, by 10 June 2008 Please provide your
institutional affiliation, a full address, and a short summary of the intended
paper (150-250 words).

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