Vol.7, No.2 | [Articles] Dreaming the ‘Great Sea’: European Discourses on the Mediterranean and their Reception in the Arab and Islamic World




This essay focuses on the European tradition of utopian discourses on the Mediterranean as a space where religious, ethnic, and cultural differences could be reconciled as well as a region conducive to more humanistic relationships. The author traces the emergence of this discourse in selected texts spanning from the 19th century to the contemporary period, contextualizing them against a background that witnessed the early colonial encroachment of France, the imperialism of the interwar era, and the post-Cold war period. Among the texts considered are writings by the followers of the utopian socialism of Saint-Simon, the cultural production of the authors gravitating around Cahiers du Sud and the Centre Universitaire Méditerranéen, and contemporary Continental philosophers. Often harking back to earlier discourses on the Mediterranean formulated during the interwar, these philosophers revisit the region as a space of legacies and forms of knowledge to counter the totalizing assumptions of post-Maastricht Europe. The essay concludes by considering the reception on this utopian Western discourse on the part of Arab and Islamic commentators.

Keywords : Mediterranean Utopia, Colonialism, “Algiers School”, Latinity, Imperialism, Continental Philosophy