The emergence of the “Mediterranean” as a coherent category of thought or, more pertinently, as a “geohistorical universal,” dates back to the early nineteenth century. The relation of the Mediterranean to formations of knowledge would thus be linked to the framework of imperial history and the discursive bounds of area and (post)colonial studies. More recently—and ostensibly as part of a larger turn away from area studies toward comparative, transcultural, transregional, and global studies—the burgeoning field of Mediterranean studies has put this resurgent category into massive deployment and circulation through a rhetoric of renewal, invention, and innovation. Responding to CSSAAME’s renewed mission statement of 2013, this introductory essay as well as the articles that follow aim to dramatize an encounter between area studies and Mediterranean studies. Through a redeployment of the Mediterranean as a methodological trope, this essay draws attention to its liquidity in configuring geopolitical and discursive relations between Africa, Asia, and Europe and to its fungibility as conceptual currency and considers the Mediterranean as a source of both data and theory.

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