Since the landmark intervention of Edward Said, the “Orient” has been widely rejected as a repository of European projections of alterity, and the Mediterranean is variously embraced as a promising framework for cross-cultural relations and transnational scholarship and rejected for its intellectual baggage and propensity to generate “Mediterraneanism.” In the francophone context, the Mediterranean has been a significant yet contentious intellectual category since the waning days of empire. Since the 1980s, with the decline of French power in Europe, the idea of a Mediterranean sphere of influence has held renewed attraction. Economic and political initiatives and educational and cultural projects have promoted transnational exchanges under the auspices of Mediterranean unity. Correspondingly, several Middle Eastern and North African scholars and writers have embraced the Mediterranean as an alternative to monolithic discourses of national, linguistic, and religious identity. Dobie’s essay situates the unique position of the Mediterranean in francophone intellectual culture and critical discourse in the context of colonial and postcolonial history.

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