2020Zeitschriftenartikel DOI: 10.18452/24038
Mediterranean Ruralities: Towards a Comparative Approach
An-Institute und nicht zur HU gehörige Einrichtungen
In this article, I discuss several options for apprehending the rurality of the Mediterranean world. The place, if any, of the ‘rural’ is related to the geographical basis of the construction of the Mediterranean as a scholarly category. A broad conception of the Mediterranean world that treats it as a region encompassing large parts of the hinterland must take the rural dimension into account. This is demonstrated through a discussion of two historiographical masterpieces dealing with Mediterranean history from the perspective of the longue durée – Braudel’s Mediterranean and Horden and Purcell’s The Corrupting Sea – which are among the best representatives of this broad conception of the Mediterranean region. However, although Braudel devoted many pages to the rural world, he sometimes offers a distorted view of rurality, thus ending up affirming the traditional view of the centrality of the Mediterranean town, influenced by an urbano-centric vision of the region and a solid environmental determinism. In criticizing these biases, Horden and Purcell announce their programmatic intention of ruralizing Mediterranean history, though they finish by revoking the category of the rural itself, alongside that of the urban. They propose instead a view of the Mediterranean world as characterized by the endless vibrancy of the variegated realm of microecologies, with their infinite and minuscule manifestations of connectivity. Their comparative approach implies a passage from the lowest common denominator of microecologies to the whole region, without intermediate levels. The article suggests that, in constructing a history of Mediterranean ruralities, it is important to build a comparative perspective going beyond both Braudel’s determinism and Horden and Purcell’s indifference to space. In this perspective, microecologies should be organized into a sort of ‘Linnaean system’ through a process of separation that takes into account intermediate scales in space and time. From this point of view, ecological types, as portrayed by Braudel, may offer a suitable starting point for a comparative analysis of the various contours of rurality in Mediterranean history. Braudelian ecological types could be a preliminary tool for organizing the analysis of difference, thus building a comparative perspective that takes into account a number of socio-cultural variables that are absent from Horden and Purcell’s perspective. Drawing on material from anthropological and historical research I have carried out in the Alps, I propose some pathways towards a comparative perspective of this sort.
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published first as (erstmalig folgendermaßen erschienen): Dionigi Albera: “Mediterranean Ruralities: Towards a Comparative Approach”. In: Zeitschrift für Ethnologie / Journal of Social and Cultural Anthropology 145.2 (2020), Special Issue “Rethinking the Mediterranean”, pages 275–294. Die Zweitveröffentlichung dieses Artikels unter der Lizenz Creative Commons Namensnennung 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) erfolgte mit freundlicher Genehmigung des Reimer Verlags.