(Migration): Session at the European Association for Urban History Conference: Cities in Motion 2020

Between 1848 and 1923 Nationalism progressively canceled the Cosmopolitanism characterizing Mediterranean cities until then. Adopting a long-term approach, the session welcomes papers investigating from different perspectives – social, urban, political, cultural – the impact that the creation of new mono-ethnic Nation-states had on urban societies and spaces that had formed in previous centuries.

Between the 1848 Revolution and the Treaty of Lausanne (1923), the various waves of nationalism significantly reduced the forms of cosmopolitanism characterizing the territories falling under the Multinational Empires and the Mediterranean space.

Since the Early Modern Age, this cosmopolitanism consisted in the coexistence of different communities, ethnicities, and religions. With the development of transport and the increase in global trade, starting from the second half of the nineteenth century, this cosmopolitanism was strengthened both by the links woven by commercial communities – e.g. merchants, brokers, businessmen, consuls – and by the migrations favored by greater ease of travel. In parallel, the European colonial expansion on the southern shore of the Mediterranean helped to create new forms of cosmopolitanism, even if accompanied by social hierarchies, marginalization, and discrimination on an ethnic basis. These phenomena, however, contrasted with the progressive disintegration of this cosmopolitanism by nascent nationalist movements that aimed at creating mono-ethnic States in opposition to imperial domination. The rise of Nationalism had a traumatic impact in Central and Eastern Europe and the Balkans, but it was the same concept of the Mediterranean, conceived as a unitary but plural space in which different peoples, civilizations and religions have been converging for millennia, to be challenged.

Indeed, the city is the context par excellence in which this «nationalization of spaces» took place.

The session welcomes contributions from scholars who have dealt with the Mediterranean cities in various aspects during this long break, in which the decline of cosmopolitanism has been accompanied by the construction of ethnically homogeneous Nation-states. The papers that adopt a long-term perspective will be particularly welcome.

The main topics that deal with this session are:

  • What was the impact of the transition from cosmopolitanism to nationalization on urban spaces (e.g. population exchanges, management of refugees, inter-ethnic conflicts)?
  • What dynamics have accompanied the creation of new capital cities and urban spaces (e.g. squares, monuments, place names)?
  • How did the social distribution of communities in urban spaces change? What kind of spatial and social hierarchies occurred with the advent of Nation states and colonial domination?

  • Spokesperson: Melania Nucifora, University of Catania
  • Co-organizer(s): Giovanni Cristina, University of Catania
  • Keywords: Mediterranean cities | Cosmopolitanism vs. nationalism | Migrations and urban spaces
  • Time period: Modern period
  • Topic(s): Social | Political
  • Study area: More than one continent