Modern History and Culture of the Eastern Mediterranean

The Eastern Mediterranean area is particularly important for understanding today’s world. Defined by Fernand Braudel as a “space-movement” among three cultural areas, Catholic Christianity, the Orthodox world and the Muslim “umma”, the Eastern Mediterranean experienced, through different forms, colonialism, decolonization and the wars of independence. This course will explore the intersections between history and culture in the Eastern Mediterranean basin. More specifically, it will focus on the complex crossing of cultures, the transformations of identities under the influence of globalization and migratory movements as well as the indication of the social and the political element on cultural products. It will also give emphasis in explaining both the causes and the results of great (internal and international) political developments that shaped and reshaped modern history in the region, such as the collapse of the Ottoman Empire and the evolvement of nation states, colonial rivalries and their outcomes, revolutions and social movements.

Jean Monnet Chair: The EU and Conflict Management in the Balkans and the Eastern Mediterranean

Conflict prevention, peace building, mediation and crisis management are central pillars of the European Union’s (EU) commitment to act as a global actor that promotes international peace and security as the basis of a rules-based multilateral order. The course examines the EU as a sui generis foreign policy actor that is firmly anchored on the principle of peace and discusses the evolution of the EU approach to conflict management and resolution across time and specific cases. It explores a series of “old” and “new” crises and conflicts focusing on the Balkans and the Eastern Mediterranean, two regions of great EU foreign policy concern and engagement, which are home to several—often interconnected yet disparate—examples of EU conflict management. In this context, the course traces and analyses traditional and more innovative approaches to conflict management; from conflict resolution and crisis management to supporting mediation, strengthening inclusivity and facilitating multi-track coordination. The course will be divided into four parts; each taught by a different expert. The first part (3 weeks) will introduce the students to the main concepts, tools and debates on EU foreign policy in conflict management. The following three parts will explore specific cases of conflicts and crises and respective EU initiatives, starting from the Balkans and moving clockwise down to the southern shore of the Eastern Mediterranean.

State and Society in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East

The course provides students with a wide-ranging perspective from which to analyse the political life of the region. Particular emphasis is placed on the nature and causes of conflict and political violence, and on the role of the state. The  course also focuses on the socio-political development of the region as a way of helping students to understand the nature and causes of its contemporary political situation. Emphasis will be given to the two main ideological/political trajectories of state formation in the region, that is the national and the religious trajectory, and to social movements generated by socio-economic dislocation and by transnational ideas, paradigms and networks

Geopolitical competition in the Eastern Mediterranean

The course seeks to introduce students to the struggle for power and primacy among today’s great powers as well as between them and other states in the Eastern Mediterranean. It basically studies the region’s international politics through the lens of geopolitics, which is a field of the discipline of international relations that explores how geography frames the set of choices with regard to the means and ends of policy. In essence, it examines how the blending of space with politics in time, coupled with the concurrent influence of power balances, plays its part in shaping the geopolitical competition and cooperation in the region concerned. From this angle, the main objective of the course is to reflect on how the dynamic interaction of geography and politics set the scene for the principal state actors to tackle with security risks and challenges prevailing in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Religion and Politics

The course is aiming to examine today’s role pf religion in international politics. Attention will be paid to the rise of religious fundamentalism, the relation between religion and nationalism and the role of religious and post-secular hybrid states in challenging the socio-political status quo in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East. The course also focuses on Apocalyptic politics that is a course of political action found in apocalyptic imaginaries, which facilitates a complete rejection of present reality and the building up of an entirely different future reality where power relations will be reversed.

Terrorism and political violence in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East

This course provides an overview of non-state contestation and political violence in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East. It will introduce students into the study of the contexts, causes and types of terrorism and non-state political violence in the region, identifying the interplay between different factors and levels of analysis that link the domestic field with regional and international politics. The course’s goal is to familiarize students with the region’s conflicts that lie below the interstate war threshold and the numerous armed non-state actors that violently contest the status quo and are crucial for understanding the security challenges that the Eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East face.    

Migration and the Mediterranean

Throughout history the Mediterranean region has been characterized by a constant movement of populations. Migration flows have utilized both the eastern and western part of the Med in order for people on the move to reach Europe. Since 2015, a massive and sudden movement of people has initiated a more thorough response of Europe that has attempted to reinvent itself and its migration related mechanisms. The course focuses on the effects of migration to both the EU and particular countries across the Mediterranean, assessing the responses of both state and non-state actors (primarily civil society organizations), through a holistic approach addressing political, social and economic perspectives. By doing so the course also emphasizes on the overall effects on interstate relations in the region.

Energy, the environment and sustainable development

Energy and the environment in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East region are two important security factors. Back in 2000s and early 2010s important natural gas reserves have been discovered providing the region with new economic prospects. Meanwhile, the greater region is considered a hotspot for the effects of climate change, while facing important issues of development and cooperation. During this course, participants will have the chance to discuss in detail about several energy projects (e.g. Eastmed) vis-à-vis the region’s sustainable development prospect and whether the challenges from climate change and the corresponding global needs for renewable resources will finally lead towards a sustainable development path.