ITAL UA 285: Narrating the Mediterranean
The Mediterranean has literally shaped my life. I was born in the seaside city of Algiers in 1970 and for the next twenty-five years I looked out daily at that majestic span of water from our family’s house in the city. I grew up dreaming of becoming a pirate or a sailor. I was so imbued with the Mediterranean that, in 1993, I wrote my first novel about pirates, the Sea and freedom. I was proud to be Mediterranean. Today, I have to confess, I am no longer proud, I feel shame. The Mediterranean has become a place of death and violence, in short an open cemetery. The distance between the two banks for the Mediterranean is only fourteen kilometers, the length of the Strait of Gibraltar. In reality, this is false. The real distance is much longer owing to colonial memory, misunderstandings, prejudices, fear, etc. What do we have to do to reduce the distance? How can we narrate the Mediterranean today? What is the relationship between present and past? Why is Europe failing at the issue of immigration? My idea is that immigration, especially from the Muslim world, has become more and more a sort of “bargaining chip” in politics and in the media. Politicians tend to invest in propaganda against immigrants in order to win elections. Journalists, on the other hand, are interested primarily in attracting a larger audience. If the immigrant is a “bargaining chip”, it’s not hard to enlarge the metaphor by saying that politicians and journalists are merchants and citizens are simply customers. We will explore different narratives of the Mediterranean by using movies, documentaries, novels and articles.
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