Mediterranean Diasporas: Politics and Ideas in the Long 19th Century ed. by Maurizio Isabella and Konstantina Zanou (review)
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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...


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