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Reviewed by
Maurizio Isabella and Konstantina Zanou, editors, Mediterranean Diasporas: Politics and Ideas in the Long 19th Century. New York: Bloomsbury Academic. 2016. Pp. xiii + 217. Paper $29.95.

Mediterranean Diasporas is a great example of the value of collaborative efforts in presenting and analyzing themes that span across national historiographies, languages, and disciplinary categories. Maurizio Isabella and Konstantina Zanou, the editors of this volume, elected to focus their investigation on what they call diasporic intellectuals and, by so doing, succeeded in revealing a new perspective on Mediterranean history in the nineteenth century. The contributors in the volume problematize notions of nationality, imperial allegiances, and the nation state, often rejecting common understandings of the reception of Western ideas in the region. This volume breaks down the compartmentalization of national historiographies that has proven remarkably durable and challenging to the efforts of many historians of the region over recent decades. [End Page 264] As Thomas Gallant states in a thoughtful afterword, the chapters of this volume contribute to a significant revision of our understanding of diaspora, transnationalism, and cosmopolitanism, as well as to the history and transmission of ideas around the Mediterranean world and Europe (207).

The first three chapters ("Letters from Spain: The 1820 Revolution and the Liberal International" by Juan Luis Simal, "An Itinerant Liberal: Almeida Garrett's Exilic Itineraries and Political Ideas in the Age of Southern European Revolutions (1820–34)" by Gabriel Paquette, and "Learning Lessons from the Iberian Peninsula: Italian Exiles and the Making of a Risorgimento Without People, 1820–48" by Grégoire Bron) discuss the impact of the Iberian revolutions of the 1820s and the subsequent civil strife that lasted into the 1830s in both Spain and Portugal. Placing their discussion within a larger context of questions about national sovereignty and political liberty in a post-Napoleonic world, they draw attention to the role of political exiles in crafting a discourse throughout the Mediterranean world and beyond. All three chapters show the impact of the promulgation of the Cadiz Constitution in Southern Europe, the effect of the failures of the Spanish and Portuguese constitutional regimes of the 1820s, and the eventual successes of liberalism in the 1830s and 1840s—all of which has not been sufficiently considered by Greek historians within the context of Greek political developments. Bron's chapter in particular acts as a wonderful bridge from Iberia to Italy by considering these effects on the Italian exiles who took part in the events of the Iberian Peninsula.

In chapter 4, "Mediterranean Liberals? Italian Revolutionaries and the Making of a Colonial Sea, ca. 1800–1830," Maurizio Isabella turns to the examination of several Italian (or Italo-Greek) intellectuals whose ideas were influenced by travel and exile, as well as by the presence of the new French and British imperial projects in the Mediterranean. Through the careers of intellectuals like Vittorio Barzoni, Ugo Foscolo, Alfio Grassi, or Gianbattista Marochetti, Isabella is able to explore the nature of early nineteenth-century liberalism, and imperial liberalism in particular, going beyond the traditional approach that examines such figures within Italian (or Greek) nationalism and situating them instead within a broader framework of Mediterranean liberalism, where contradictions—such as combining strong philhellenic ideas with praise for the Ottoman Empire, as in Grassi's case—can easily exist (86).

Chapter 5, "Ottomans on the Move: Hassuna D'Ghies and the 'New Ottomanism' of the 1830s" by Ian Coller, is a welcome extension to North Africa of some of the themes presented by the earlier authors. The concept of mobility is once more crucial in Coller's discussion of "New Ottomanism" through the experiences of D'Ghies, a man of North African origins, who was educated [End Page 265] in Europe and advocated independence from the Ottoman Empire. Later, he would enter Ottoman service and, as the editor of Le Moniteur Ottoman, would embrace the cause of Ottoman revival and reform. Unfortunately, Coller's chapter is the only one dealing directly with North Africa and would have benefited by the inclusion of another chapter, possibly on Egypt, which is remarkably absent in this volume.

Chapter 6, "Imperial Nationalism and Orthodox Enlightenment" by Konstantina Zanou, discusses the diasporic links between the Ionian islands, Russia, and Greece in the first decades of the nineteenth century. Zanou expands on the recent interest in Greek historiography of the links between religion and Enlightenment that the traditional accounts of the so-called Neohellenic Enlightenment often oversimplified. As Zanou contends, many diasporic intellectuals did not see the Greek nation as "incompatible with the Christian oecumene and the traditional world of the empires, but as part of it" (118). Her description of Giorgio Mocenigo, Ioannis Kapodistrias, Andreas Mustoxidis, Spiridone Naranzi, and Bishop Ignatius may be familiar, but her treatment of their experiences and the crucial role of Russia in the brief period of the Septinsular Republic is a very useful addition to the complex network of ideas circulating on the eve of the Greek War of Independence, demonstrating that the "pan-Christian utopian vision" (126) of these intellectuals has not been sufficiently explored. Zanou makes such ideas compatible with the emerging ideology of nationalism, unlike earlier accounts that saw such ecumenism as standing in opposition to it.

Chapter 7, "Away or Homeward Bound? The Slippery Case of Mediterranean Place in the Era Before Nation-states" by Dominique Kirchner Reill, is a very interesting discussion of what the author calls the "mental world of the Mediterranean" against "the modern geographical grain" (136). Using the case studies of Niccolo Tommaseo, Pacifico Valussi, and Matija Ban, the author demonstrates how their experiences of displacement from their birthplaces either in exile, due to their political activities, or in pursuit of employment in ethnically diverse regions of the Mediterranean "transformed their understanding of nationhood" (142). All three are nowadays seen as nationalists and active contributors to the creation of their respective nation-states, yet their stories show the fluidity of space and identity in the first half of the nineteenth century, an ambiguity that is often masked in national historiographies.

The last three chapters by Andrew Arsan ("The Strange Lives of Ottoman Liberalism: Exile, Patriotism and Constitutionalism in the Thought of Mustafa Fazil Pasa"), Artan Puto and Maurizio Isabella ("From Southern Italy to Istanbul: Trajectories of Albanian Nationalism in the Writings of Girolamo de Rada [End Page 266] and Shemseddin Sami Frasheri, ca. 1848–1903"), and the late Vangelis Kechriotis ("Ottomanism with a Greek Face: Karamanli Greek Orthodox Diaspora at the End of the Ottoman Empire") move the volume to the second half of the nineteenth century and the early twentieth. Arslan attempts to reinterpret the significance of Fazil Pasa in Ottoman political thought and the Young Ottoman movement, while at the same time placing him and his fellow travellers within contemporary European political discourse, even as they maintained their distinctive understanding of the future of the Ottoman Empire. Puto and Isabella reveal some fascinating aspects of Albanian nationalism through their examination of two intellectuals, de Rada and Frasheri, who, despite their advocacy for the Albanian nation, perceived the latter in very different ways. Contrasting their thoughts and backgrounds—one a prominent figure of the Italian Albanian community and the other a quintessential Ottoman intellectual in Istanbul—reveals yet again the enduring fluidity of the Mediterranean world. Finally, Kechriotis's chapter examines two Christian Orthodox Cappadocian intellectuals, Emmanouil Emmanouilidis and Pavlos Carolidis, who achieved social and political prominence—the first in Izmir and the second in Athens—within the Ottoman Empire. Ironically, even as the former Committee of Union and Progress parliamentary deputy, Emmanouilidis was still able to continue his political career in Greece, becoming governor of Western Macedonia and later a deputy in the Greek Parliament, while Carolidis's academic career would become a victim of the political disputes between monarchists and republicans. Kechriotis's chapter is a fitting conclusion to this volume, indicating both the fluidity and permeability of the Mediterranean world in the nineteenth century, as well as the hardening of its boundaries in the twentieth. The afterword by Thomas Gallant brilliantly captures some of the broader epistemological questions that these chapters struggle with, including the reanimation of the term "diaspora" and its interactions with the concepts of transnationalism and cosmopolitanism.

It is rare to discuss an edited volume where all the chapters tie in so well with each other and manage to address common themes and concepts. Not only is the volume a thought-provoking one, but most of the chapters are also well written and accessible enough to be used in undergraduate courses on the history of the Mediterranean or related topics. Even the temporal divide between the first seven chapters and the concluding three does not weaken the overall project, since they demonstrate the enduring permeability of the Mediterranean world, at least in its eastern part. Kechriotis's chapter acts as a fitting bookend for the Ottoman Mediterranean, although one is left to wonder what other bookends could be found for the western part of the sea. The only [End Page 267] disappointment comes from what this slim volume did not include, such as an exploration of late-nineteenth century developments in the western Mediterranean or a discussion of the Jewish and Egyptian intellectual diasporas.

Evdoxios Doxiadis
Simon Fraser University
Evdoxios Doxiadis

Evdoxios Doxiadis is an assistant professor at Simon Fraser University. His research interests include the history of women, law, and minorities in the context of state formation in nineteenth-century Greece. His latest publication is "A Place in the Nation: Jews and the Greek State in the Long 19th Century" in Tullia Catalan and Marco Dogo (eds.), The Jews and the Nation-States of Southeast Europe from the 1848 Revolutions to the Great Depression: Combining Viewpoints on a Controversial Story (Cambridge Scholars Press, 2016).