Fernand Braudel’s seminal thesis on the Mediterranean world in the age of Philip II vividly depicted the ‘Northern invasion’ of the Mediterranean at the end of the 16th century. Following Europe’s ‘discovery’ and colonization of the Americas, and Portuguese and Dutch penetration of Asian markets, this ‘invasion’ confirmed, in Braudel’s eyes, the shift of Europe’s political and economic core from the Mediterranean to the Atlantic. Despite current reassessment of Braudel’s thesis, the predominant grand narrative about early modern Europe’s ‘expansion’ and economic development still considers that – after having been a propulsive centre in the Middle Ages – the Italian peninsula underwent a process of steady decline and marginalization in the age of Atlantic trade. This interpretative framework resulted into different historical foci. While the history of Europe’s Atlantic engagement was concerned mostly with the ‘triumphant’ cases of Portugal, Spain, the Dutch Republic, France and England, scholars of Mediterranean history mainly dealt with intra-Mediterranean relations.
The Atlantic Italies Network – a developing network of scholars working on economic entanglements and related cultural phenomena that developed between Italian-speaking territories and the Atlantic world from the fifteenth to the nineteenth century – challenges this historiographical divergence. We focus on the circulation of goods and knowledge as well as on the brokers involved in Italian-Atlantic connections. The network adopts a geographically broad perspective in crisscrossing historiographical fields which have largely evolved along separate lines and utilizing an innovative approach which will allow past entanglements to re-emerge. By examining connections related to European states without colonies as well as their links to sub-Saharan Africa and the Americas, we embrace a de-centred and trans-imperial approach to Atlantic history. At the same time, we aim at contributing to current attempts to analyse early modern Italian territories in their global contexts. The Atlantic Italies Network builds upon the historiography on Atlantic trade, especially its recent developments which study the role of informal networks. It also expands on studies dealing with the transformation of consumption patterns and the hybridization of material culture fuelled by the intensification of maritime trade during the early modern age. The project combines intercontinental and local scales of observation and – adopting a recent turn – it explores the analytical potential of a micro-historical approach to global entanglements.
The first meeting of the Atlantic Italies Network took place as a two-session panel at the 5th European Congress on World and Global History (Budapest, 31 Aug.-3 Sept. 2017). The present call for papers concerns the conference in Nice, which will be followed by a third and last event in Switzerland in autumn 2019, before moving toward a publication.
The Nice conference (8-10 November 2018) will particularly welcome papers involving economic dimensions related to shipping, trade and economic interconnections. How did Mediterranean/Italian commodities enter Atlantic markets? How did Atlantic commodities transform the patterns of consumption in Italian societies? What strategies did actors from this (at least partially) peripheralized region develop to connect themselves to the thriving oceanic trade routes? What kind of mobility patterns and what channels of knowledge circulation emerged between these two spaces? These suggestions are not intended as exclusive, and we welcome all proposals contributing to our overall perspective.
The official conference language is English, but papers in French and Italian are accepted as well. Please write your proposal in the language you will use for your paper presentation. Please send your one-page paper proposal, and a very short CV, by the 31 May 2018, to firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com. The results of the paper selection will be communicated by 10 July 2018.
The organizers will cover hotel costs (two nights) and meals. Transport costs are at participants’ expenses.