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Institut za Europske i Globalizacijske Studije

Institute for European and globalization studies

Institute for European and Globalization Studies




I. 1. Mediterranean civilization or slow embankment on Braudel's ship.

Civilizations are socio-cultural structures of relatively long age. This definition follows Braudel's interpretation, although Braudel did not pay so much attention to definitions or great theories. During the times of great political and ideological debates in France, he even moved away from them. He built his “theory” about Mediterranean and Mediterranean world using only documental and archival analysis, including Dubrovnik’s archives. We should point out one of his writings - The Mediterranean and the Mediterranean World in the Age of Philip II. But let's get back to civilizations.

Civilizations are complex social structures whose spiritual and material shapes / forms (Georg Simmel), take place within a certain space that is more lasting than civilization. Spaces are formed before civilization. Civilizations have arisen within the space. Spaces were enclosed in political boundaries by some power, imperial form of government such as Roman, Ottoman or republican type of city-states / Dubrovnik, Genoa, Lucca, Venice. All this is true for the Mediterranean. Mediterranean is a vortex of great religions, cultures, wars, trade, market, or "exchange game" as Braudel points in the Game of Exchange

Any attempt to define the civilization of the Mediterranean should, therefore, have a spatial dimension, which is highlighted in Braudel’s interpretation of Mediterranean civilization. The Mediterranean is in geophysical terms the "centre of the world", as defined by Hegel in the Philosophy of History. However, it’s also a "world in itself" – as seen by the Germans.  Or "world stage", the centre of world history in the context of the philosophy of history, whose significance is questioned Jacob Burkhardt in polemic with Hegel. We continue with the area of the Mediterranean.

The Mediterranean gave birth to civilizations of the West and the East. For example, Europe and the West would be in terms of civilization difficult to imagine without the culture of the Mediterranean. The identity of Europe is interwoven with Mediterranean identity. We see Greek culture, Roman civilization, humanism, the Renaissance and rationalism as part of Europe's identity.

The history of North and South America again is not conceivable without the Mediterranean cultural heritage of Greece and Rome. Is today's America a copy of Rome? On the other hand, Arab philosophy has, at one point, mediated Greek philosophy and thus also participated in the rescue and construction of the identity of Europe.

The Mediterranean is the meeting point of three great religions: Christianity—Western and Eastern—Judaism, and Islam. Traces of Islam in Europe are visible in today's Spain, Cordoba, due to penetration of the Arabs (Cordoba Caliphate period 929-1031) into the Iberian Peninsula. Also, the identity of Europe cannot be understood and interpreted without strong influence of Judaism and Jews, who were themselves affected by the cultural development of middle and south Europe. These are the Ashkenazim and Sephardim.

The Mediterranean also gave birth to political philosophy on the forms of government such as democracy, monarchy, republic, oligarchy, and tyranny. It is the area of global political power embodied in the Roman Empire. It apexes during the time of the Roman Republic, which covered the area of the Mediterranean, Egypt and the wider Europe. It is a planetary power, which started in the Mediterranean.

From the oldest and darkest times, until today the Mediterranean remained the focal point of culture and civilizations and the centre of their mutual interdependence. What is common to all Mediterranean countries is a Mediterranean cultural identity recognizable in both tangible and intangible, such as a similar architecture, mentality, relaxed lifestyle, olive oil, bowling game, an incredible lightness of being, Dionysian and hedonistic culture, strong emotions, passion for the moment (here and now), nostalgia for the South (Split) when we visit the North (Zagreb), traditionalism, and all other similar traits of the centre of the world.

Croatian culture also belongs to the Mediterranean. Croatian three-tier cultural identity component has an attractive Mediterranean dimension, which has historically always been a dark object of desire of various kinds of “preying states”. We can seek more information in special issue of the journal of literature and science “Dubrovnik”. Special issue contains pieces by relevant Croatian literary theorist and writers: Ivan Slaming, Ivo Franges, Pavle Pavlicic, Predrag Matvejevic, Radovan Ivancevic, Tonka Maroević, Petar Segedina and others. The theme of the Issue is centred around Mediterranean in the eyes of Fernand Braudel, Paul Valery, Albert Camus and others.

Another dimension of the Croatian cultural identity is a Central European one (Mitteleuropa), which is due to the Mediterranean roots of Europe's identity. It is indirectly also Mediterranean in terms of spiritual, cultural, and religious heritage. Finally, the third dimension of this identity is that the Balkan one, which has, since the time of two experimental Yugoslavias as unsustainable political synthesis, tried to impose as "dominant", at least at the level of mentality and aggressive behaviour. Here, however, we prefer the Central European and Mediterranean dimension of the Croatian cultural identity, regardless of the strong influence of above mentioned Balkan component. We cannot escape from it, but we shouldn’t follow it and we should firmly reject its aggressive form.

I. 2. Mediterranean in world history and in the vortex of power

The Mediterranean has long been the "centre of the world" in terms of meditation, contemplation, spiritual, cultural and political power. When have ideas of political and economic power interrupt its leading role? Braudel says: "Italy has dominated until the XVI century, that is, as long as the Mediterranean was the centre of the Old World. But around 1600, Europe has shaken itself in favour of the North.” Here Braudel writes about the cities of Bruges, Hanze, Amsterdam, Antwerp, London. There was a transfer of power from the Mediterranean to Northern Europe, and later from North Europe and London to New York. These are phases / cycles of power in the history of globalization, whose roots are above all Mediterranean. Thus, we are talking about Mediterranean roots of globalization.

The history of the Mediterranean is cyclic in relation to the idea of power. We should view the Mediterranean precisely through the lens of the idea of power, for it shows the rise, stagnation, and the impact on the shaping of Europe, the Old and the New World (North and South America). The Mediterranean is the subject of world history in a Hegelian way. In all its historical changes with regard to the idea of power and deceptive luck in XX and XXI centuries, the Mediterranean turned into a mere object of power or into an American-type facility of globalization. Large numbers of sea-bound refugees involuntarily float on the sea of the Mediterranean, seeking refuge and secure existential safe haven in Europe.

The Mediterranean has become a victim of a new type of global power. One man from the Mediterranean has laid out not too optimistic picture of the tragic Mediterranean in relation to its role in the history of civilization:  "Modern Mediterranean provokes anxiety. I see that it fell apart and split up, not because of any conspiracy, but because the Mediterraneans no longer control their own destiny. Others rule above them, and they define life, and retail price a loaf of bread, a bottle of oil or a bottle of wine. The situation is very serious. The Mediterranean, which was supposed to be a sea of peace, became the area of conflict and rivalry, and rarely cooperation." (A. Nouschi) We can say that Lexus, did not only overtake the olive tree, it overran it.

Today, in 2017, the Mediterranean is again the focal point of global power players and their power games (the US, Russia). They partake in the deconstruction of states such as Libya and Syria, producing mass forced migration to Europe and its regions.

The Mediterranean is mainly a source of economic and migration issues for the EU but also a profitable area, a relatively cheap tourist destination, and the source of stereotypes about "lazy" Mediterraneans. This leads to the question: how others perceive the Mediterranean? Even the EU Member States of Mediterranean provenance like Spain, Portugal, France, Greece, Italy, Croatia, and Slovenia do not nurture awareness of the common Mediterranean heritage and identity, which could turn it into a significant economic potential within the EU. It is free for all. And where is the "exchange game", Braudel would ask.

The Mediterranean is a good topic for research on interdisciplinary foundations. Its contribution to the World is huge. Everything came to be from Mediterranean and we cannot ignore that. Therefore, it deserves academic approach, especially at a time when it has become the object of global power and the devastation; the centre of the World's periphery, or summer residence for millions of globalized people eager to smell the Mediterranean. (Anjdelko Milardovic)



The Mediterranean is seen as the area of contact and collaboration of European, Asian and African civilizations, an area of continuous contacts between Christianity, Islam and Judaism, and political traditions of conservatism and socialism. In this regard, the Study Group for Civilization and Politics of the Mediterranean:

  • Reflects the civilization heritage of the Mediterranean in the interdisciplinary fields of philosophy, history, sociology, theology and political theory in the context of French historian Fernand Braudel
  • Analyses security policy and international relations in the Mediterranean, with particular reference to terrorism, security of waterways, ecology, the Union for the Mediterranean, international initiatives North-South, etc.
  • Examines regional comparative politics oriented to the Mediterranean from the viewpoint of the European Union, African Union, Arab League and individual nation states
  • Recognizes the role of Croatia in the Mediterranean, development of Croatian policy towards the Adriatic and the Mediterranean, and positioning of Croatia as a Mediterranean country. (Vedran Obućina)

II. 2. Areas of scientific and research interests

II. 2. a) How many Mediterranean are there? One or more?

  • Space and cultures of the Mediterranean. The pluralism of cultures?
  • The Mediterranean and its impact on the shaping of Europe
  • Mediterranean and its impact on the shaping of the New World: North and South America

II. 2. b) The origin of Mediterranean Studies

  • Hegel and philosophy of history
  • Fernad Braudel and the French Annales school
  • Civilization as the structure of a relatively long duration (longue durée) (Fernand Braudel)
  • Philosophy and culture of the Mediterranean
  • Religions of the Mediterranean (Christianity, Judaism, Islam)

II. 3. Mediterranean roots of politics and political theory: Political Mediterranean/the new discipline

  • Mediterranean roots of direct democracy
  • Mediterranean roots of republics
  • Political theory of republicanism of Mediterranean provenance (Rome, Italy, France, the influence of the Anglo-Saxon political theory of republicanism)
  • Machiavelli - the citizen of the Mediterranean - as father/"daddy" of modern political science
  • Mediterranean roots of fascism (Italy, Spain, Portugal, Greece, France, Croatia)
  • Mediterranean roots of anarchism and communism (Italy, Spain, Portugal, Greece)
  • Mediterranean roots of authoritarianism, sultanism and theocracy, religious fundamentalism (political Islam) in the Eastern Mediterranean
  • The experience of transition in the Mediterranean region: Italy, Spain, Portugal, Greece, Turkey
  • regionalist, autonomist and secessionist movements in the Mediterranean: Spain (Basque Country, Catalonia), France, Italy (Lega Nord, the Movement Veneto)

II. 4. Mediterranean in international relations

  • The history of international relations in the Mediterranean
  • Mediterranean countries in the EU (Croatia, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Greece, Malta, Cyprus) and their relationships
  • Euro Mediterranean Union, ideas and perspectives of French influence
  • Migration in the Mediterranean and the Mediterranean refugee routes: the challenges and dangers for the EU
  • Turkey as the holder of the key to the migration crisis and EU’s future
  • Cooperation with the Mediterranean countries, EU Member States, the European Community

II. 5. Mediterranean cultures and identities

  • Mediterranean as a source of ‘revealed’ religions (Christianity, Judaism, Islam)
  • Cooperation and culture clash in the Mediterranean
  • Mediterranean dimension of the cultural identity of Europe
  • Mediterranean component of Croatian cultural identity
  • Cultural stereotypes of Mediterranean and Mediterraneans
  • Mediterranean culture of hedonism

Zagreb, 18 February 2017.


Institute for European and globalization studies

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