#032 – The Mediterranean viewed from the Southern Shore

with Jasmin Daam, Esther Möller, Cyrus Schayegh, and Selim Deringil

a joint release with Ottoman History Podcast

Swimming at the Corniche of Beirut, in the background: the Hôtel Saint-Georges, 1930s. © Fonds photographique René Zuber.

Modern Mediterranean history and Middle Eastern history rarely dialogue with each other. Whereas European ideas and practices of and in the Mediterranean have been studied thoroughly, only recently did researchers start to examine ideas and experiences through which actors on the Southern shore contributed to the making of the Mediterranean. In this episode, recorded during a conference in Beirut, we discuss the relevance of the Mediterranean in Arab ideas, institutions and identity constructions in the late Ottoman and post-Ottoman period. We focus on topics such as tourism in the Mandates, spatial transformations in the former Western Arab provinces after the demise of the Ottoman Empire, emigration on sea from the coast of Lebanon, and humanitarianism in Egypt after WWII. Through such diverse perspectives, the episode asks what a focus on the Southern shore might add to our perception of the Mediterranean “liquid continent”.



Jasmin Daam currently works for the Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes (German National Academic Foundation). Her main research interests concern colonial and global history, the history of the modern Middle East and North Africa, and cultural history with a focus on the history of travel and tourism. Having been a research and teaching assistant at the University of Kassel in the field of global history and the history of globalization processes, she has just submitted her Ph.D. dissertation on tourism and the formation of nation-states in the Arab Eastern Mediterranean in the 1920s and 1930s.




Esther Möller is a Visiting professor at the University of the German army in Munich with a focus on the cultural history of North Africa. After her first book on the history of French cultural policy in Lebanon in the first half of the twentieth century, she is now preparing a new book project on the history of humanitarian aid in the Arab world with a focus on Egypt in the second half of the twentieth century. Her research interests include global and transnational history, the history of colonial education, and the history of humanitarianism, human rights and humanitarian law in the Arab world.




Cyrus Schayegh is Professor of International History at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva, Switzerland. Before joining the Graduate Institute, he was Associate Professor at Princeton University and Assistant Professor at the American University of Beirut. His latest book The Middle East and the Making of the Modern World (Harvard University Press, 2017) not only presents a history of the modern Middle East, but also suggests a new methodological approach that allows an encompassing analysis of shifting spatial orders in the region of bilad al-sham.




Selim Deringil is Professor of History at the Lebanese American University in Beirut, Lebanon. He published numerous books and articles on the cultural and intellectual history of the Ottoman Empire, covering topics ranging from citizenship, the role of religion in the Ottoman Empire, to mobilities in the Mediterranean. His latest publication The Ottoman Twilight in the Arab Lands: Turkish Memoirs and Testimonies of the Great War (Academic Studies Press, 2019) sheds new light on the First World War in the Middle East and renders accessible previously unpublished sources to a wide audience.



To cite this episode: Daam, Jasmin; Möller, Esther; Schayegh, Cyrus; Deringil, Selim; Andreas Guidi (2020): The Mediterranean viewed from the Southern Shore. The Southeast Passage #032, 18.07.2020, http://thesoutheastpassage.com/podcast/mediterranean-southern-shore/



Wajdi Abou Diab is a Lebanese pianist and composer who graduated in 2016 from the Lebanese National Conservatory of Music. We received the kind permission to use extracts from his Longa / Sama’i arrangements with piano accompaniment that aim to make an Arab repertoire of classical music available to occidental musicians and a worldwide audience.

Longa Nahawand – Jamil Bek Tanbouri
Longa Nahawand – Marcel Khalifeh
Longa Shahnaz – Adham Afandi
Samai’ Hijazkar – Antoine Zabita



– Questioning the Mediterranean: (Self-)Representations from the Southern Shore in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries – Beirut, 10-12 October 2019 – Conference Program
– Research Network “Modern Mediterranean: Dynamics of a World region 1800|2000” led by Manuel Borutta and funded by the DFG-German Research Foundation
– Wajdi Abou Diab’s Youtube Channel


Further reading:

al-Azmeh, Aziz, ‘The Mediterranean and Islam’, Approches historiographiques et perspectives de recherche, 2012, 58-71.

al-Kharrat, Edouard; Afifi, Mohamed, La Méditerranée égyptienne (Paris : Maisonneuve et Larose, 2000).

Bourguet, Marie-Noëlle, L’ invention scientifique de la Méditerranée: Égypte, Morée, Algérie (Paris: Éd. de l’École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, 1998).

Burke III, Edmund, ‘Toward a Comparative History of the Modern Mediterranean, 1750-1919’, Journal of World History, 23/4 (2012), 907–39.

Horden, Peregrine, and Purcell, Nicholas, ‘The Mediterranean and “the New Thalassology”’, The American Historical Review, 111/3 (2006), 722–40.

Khalidi, Rashid, ‘The “Middle East” as a Framework of Analysis: Re-mapping a Region in the Era of Globalization’, Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa, and the Middle East, 18/1 (1998), 74¬–80.

Khater, Akram, Inventing home: Emigration, gender, and the middle class in Lebanon, 1870-1920 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2011).

Khoury, Elias; Beydun, Ahmad, La Méditerranée libanaise (Paris : Maisonneuve et Larose, 2000).

Khuri-Makdisi, Ilham, The Eastern Mediterranean and the Making of Global Radicalism, 1860-1914 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2013).

Schayegh, Cyrus, The Middle East and the Making of the Modern World (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2017).

Tamari, Salim, ‘The Mountain against the Sea? Cultural Wars of the Eastern Mediterranean’, in Salim Tamari, Mountain Against the Sea. Essays on Palestinian Society and Culture (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2009), 22–35.

Tucker, Judith E. (ed.), The Making of the Modern Mediterranean: Views from the South, University of California Press 2019.

Wick, Alexis, The Red Sea: In Search of Lost Space, University of California Press, 2016.


Aley postcard Mediterranean

Postcard of Aley, a village on Mount Lebanon, 1920s. © Fouad Debbas Collection, Album Sarrafian No.5 – 8596.