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    Mediterranean futures: historical time and the departure of Italians from Egypt, 1919-1937

    Viscomi, Joseph (2019) Mediterranean futures: historical time and the departure of Italians from Egypt, 1919-1937. Journal of Modern History 91 (2), pp. 341-379. ISSN 0022-2801.

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    The entanglements and interactions that characterize the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth century Mediterranean pose a wealth of problems for historians. Many scholars turn to the slippery terms "cosmopolitanism" and "nationalism" to understand how the populations moving around the sea's shores changed over time. These accounts often portray a struggle between worldviews, one subverting or replacing the other. In this article, I argue that the problem at stake in the historiography of the colonial Mediterranean is rooted not in the epistemological categories we use to understand the period, but rather in our interpretive approach to the processes that contour the sea's history. In place of a focus on such categories, I attend to recent scholarship on histories of the future. By taking seriously the role of temporal imagination among historical actors, this approach can help historians better understand how historical processes unfolded in the colonial Mediterranean. In this case, the Italians of Egypt (italiani d'Egitto) and historical actors connected to their communities envisioned their futures during the interwar period in ways that reach far beyond the immediate political circumstances. Contrary to traditional interpretations, which see the 1950s as pivotal to the departure of Italians from Egypt, in this article I demonstrate that, in part triggered by Fascist propaganda and imperialist aspirations in the sea itself, by the late 1930s departure and repatriation were central to any discourse on Italian futures in Egypt. This case, I argue, challenges the foundations of traditional depictions of the twentieth-century colonial Mediterranean.


    Item Type: Article
    School: Birkbeck Faculties and Schools > Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Historical Studies
    Depositing User: Joseph Viscomi
    Date Deposited: 28 Sep 2018 07:14
    Last Modified: 02 Aug 2023 17:44


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