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    Pontremoli's cry: personhood, scale, and history in the Eastern Mediterranean

    Viscomi, Joseph (2020) Pontremoli's cry: personhood, scale, and history in the Eastern Mediterranean. History and Anthropology 31 (1), pp. 43-65. ISSN 0275-7206.

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    This article explores the relationship between personhood and participation in wider political worlds that encompass (and dismantle) national, transnational and regional scales. It does so through a microhistorical study of Moise Pontremoli, an Italian Sephardic Jew displaced from Izmir to Alexandria and finally to Rome between the 1920s and the 1960s. After having returned to Egypt from the First World War as a ‘wounded Italian veteran’, Pontremoli purchased a plot of desert land from local Bedouin. This land became home to his experimental farm. He wrote expressively on his greening of the desert landscape during the interwar years, until he was cut off from it by the Second World War. Between 1952 and 1956 local authorities destroyed his crops and sequestered his land. He petitioned the Egyptian Sequestrate and received minor compensation; then, in a much longer and unanswered battle, he pursued Italian diplomatic authorities for what he saw as their abandon in favour of state interests and a diplomacy of political ‘friendship’ with Egypt’s emergent nationalist regime. He wrote obsessively to journalists, politicians, lawyers, human rights activists, and to anyone who might listen to his case. With great frustration, Pontremoli repatriated in 1963 and settled in Rome to continue his campaign. His letters gained attention only in the turbulent years of late-1960s Italy, just before his death in 1968. This article argues that Pontremoli’s articulation of personhood through his wounded body and lost land knotted histories of migration, empire, war, and decolonization into one tale of twentieth-century Mediterranean discontent.


    Item Type: Article
    Additional Information: This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis, available online at the link above.
    Keyword(s) / Subject(s): Mediterranean, personhood, microhistory, historical anthropology, scale
    School: Birkbeck Faculties and Schools > Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Historical Studies
    Depositing User: Joseph Viscomi
    Date Deposited: 30 Apr 2019 09:46
    Last Modified: 02 Aug 2023 17:50


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