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The introduction lays out the central argument of the volume, which has three main strands: 1) those named most often by others as “migrants” do not represent a sudden, unprecedented crisis but are part of a long line of people who have come from “elsewhere” to participate in European life; 2) this long-running circulation of men, women, and children has always been accompanied by the movement of inventive ideas; 3) displaced and dispossessed peoples have shaped European culture in a major way over many centuries. To make its point, the volume conceputalizes “migrants” in a new way, paying special attention to the existence of premodern migrants. It offers three groups of case studies, organized by language – Spanish, Italian, and French – which examine the growing and changing ensemble of representations in speech, writing, visual arts, and other objects that people create in search of a sense of self.

This comparative volume advances an argument about the sustained contribution of migrants to Europe's literatures, social cultures, and arts.

Firstly, those named most often by others as “migrants” do not represent a sudden, unprecedented crisis, as pundits and politicians continue to claim, with successive waves of migration. Instead, people arriving in the Spanish enclaves in Morocco, landing on the Italian islands of Sicily and Lampedusa, held up on the French coast of the Channel – and drowning in increasing numbers – are the latest generations of migrantes, migranti, migrants to participate in European life. They stand in a long line, heirs of the perennial presence of those who started their lives “elsewhere,” who were forced to move or chose to do so, all of them learning to live in several languages.

This volume breaks with the notion of a current-day migration emergency to show, secondly, that what we pragmatically call “Europe” has never been bounded by the seas that surround it (Abulafia, 2019). Peoples have regularly been crossing the Mediterranean in the south, travelling through the continent, traversing the Channel in the north. This circulation of men, women, and children, the movement of inventive ideas they bring with them is far from exceptional – it is the lifeblood of culture. Contributors to the volume counter the perception of crisis by conceiving of a cultural history of the European continent as one time-honored site of significant movements of peoples.

Thirdly, these many displaced and dispossessed peoples, known and unknown, have shaped European cultures in a major way over many centuries. “Europe” is no less in motion than those identified as migrants (Guénoun, 2000: 17). At the heart of the book is the argument that migrants are fundamental actors in the historical making of that “work in progress” that is Europe – in what they do and what they express, and in how they are represented by writers and artists of many stripes. To make this argument, contributors work with the arts and sciences of migration, together with oral accounts of migrants. Across several languages and materials, they show both the fatal and fruitful consequences of this mass movement.

Contributors to this volume take a very long critical view. Already by the fifteenth century, world historians argue, the peoples of three continents, Africa, Europe, and Asia, had become inter-connected, their movements more common than not. (Hoerder, 2015: 6; 2002; Phillips 1994). Displaced by warring political powers, brought by force in servitude from other lands, travelling as merchants, or moved by a taste for adventure, early modern peoples around the European continent can as likely be identified as migrants as those we encounter today. In the Mediterranean south, multiple holy wars of Islamic caliphates and Christian kingdoms, as well as civil wars among city-states on the Italian peninsula, displaced thousands of individuals, including those who wrote inventively about what they lost. In the north of the continent as well, struggles between competing dynasties starting in the fourteenth century rousted thousands more out of their lands, including a number who expressed the shock of their dispossession in poetry and drawing. In the north and south, as across the continent, huge numbers of premodern peoples took to the roads over land and water – a phenomenon that merits being interpreted in its full cultural implications.

The question of premodern migrants is being taken up again by historians investigating urban and civic culture (Rubin, 2020: 19–21). This research zeroes in on many more types of passers-through, especially women workers, and builds on the work of earlier generations. Social historian Henri Pirenne argued that “the city is the creation of those who migrated toward it. It has been made from without and not from within” (Pirenne, 1914: 502). 1 Pirenne was investigating his own well-surveyed terrain of multilingual port cities in the north such as Ghent and Antwerp, as well as those in the south, Venice and Genoa. The hundred-year-old Pirenne thesis, however surpassed, did demonstrate the vital, engaging involvement of migrants in the labor force and urban life, whether they came from the land's end of Brittany or the other extreme limit of the European continent in the east. It is a thesis, too, that leads some contributors to argue in a social and economic vein, following Pirenne, that in this way “Europe ‘colonized’ itself thanks to the increase in inhabitants,” those who had come from outside the walls of cities and far beyond as well. 2

This question of premodern migrants is also inflected by the cultures of slavery. Researchers are beginning to reconsider the serf vs. enslaved comparison that has long limited thinking about such peoples in European societies (Rio in Ismard et al. 2021: 101–8). Their investigations are extending progressively in zones around the Mediterranean, in its port cities, as much as in the Atlantic (Barker, 2019: 3; McKee, 2014). They, too, draw on the work of historian-writers from two generations ago. Iris Origo, for example, brought to light a forgotten episode in history, one of Armenians and Africans, among others, moved against their will to work in Tuscan households during the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. 3 Origo pioneered the abiding problem of enslavement as a necessary direction for tracking migration historically along one of its southern routes.

When we pose the question of migrating peoples around Europe in modern times, it is not surprising, then, how inextricably bound up this is with colonial histories. In an edited volume entitled Les Mondes de l’esclavage (The Worlds of Slavery), scholars show that slavery has an immense structural power and contributes to the institution of new forms of coerced labor outside of the slavery regime itself, and this beyond the Atlantic world (Ismard et al. 2021). Here, contributors tackle several histories of colonial ideologies and practices that tell us much about who has migrated and why. They analyze the process of colonization that has undergirded immigration and its present-day state management. Some contributors examine this process in the terms of social practices aimed at controlling human relations, as well as of production. Others reckon with a colonial imprint on people's ways of thinking and writing, the ways writers and critics challenge – and surpass – that legacy too. In studying various migrant cultures, literatures, and arts in post-colonial regimes, they take up ethnic, racial, and religious categories used to stigmatize migrants. 4 Within these formidable constraints, contributors also examine how people take hold of every medium available to represent the condition of migrants to critique the political powers enforcing their lives, and to express imaginatively other ways of living. They turn also to those artists whose work is created to protest the ways anti-immigrant figures are inculcated. In sum, the volume's authors regard those peoples displaced as a consequence of colonial legacies as prime movers and shakers of culture; rooted communities are, in fact, the exception in the Maghreb, North Africa, for example, as Julia Clancy-Smith argues (2011: 21).

With this historical understanding, contributors conceptualize “migrants” in a new way. In order to identify their contributions to cultures, literatures, and arts, they work to establish their sizeable presence in European history. Who are premodern migrants? This is a question still rarely pursued about those forced to move onto and around the continent during the fourteenth century. How are groups identified during the fifteenth century, as well as the sixteenth and seventeenth, periods conventionally cast as the early, defining eras of imperial and colonial expansion in Africa, as in the Americas? The terms used to identify “migrants” at the time are configured principally through stories of banishment and exile. Peoples are perceived as personae non gratae, divested of their humanity. To gauge the implications of names means considering many groups as migrants, and foregrounding individuals whose social circumstances characterize them in this way.

Several contributors pursue the work of reconceptualizing premodern peoples as “migrants.” They place groups who are defined by ethnicities, separated by religion, and identified by language, at the core of their investigations. They examine the part these migrants play in Europe's early modern conflicted history, the formative influence of what they write – and what is written about them – on conceptions of literature. Other contributors who study contemporary circumstances take up the figures that stigmatize migrants – outsiders at the origin of crisis – as well as the myths of European prosperity awaiting them. They work to undo these distorted pictures, analyzing the range of anti-immigrant discourses and practices around specific events of dispossession and routes of migration. For example, even if states like France prevent certain migrants from participating in the social culture of Europe by refusing their asylum claims, by incarcerating them, or by pushing them away from urban centers, migrants make a forceful intervention in the continent's cultural and political make-up. Artists from the world-over have been collaborating with migrants to depict the conditions in tent camps, but also the rich lives, hopes, and aspirations of people stuck at borders, in Calais, among others (Miyamoto and Ruiz, 2021; Agier, 2018). Contributors, then, also focus on writers and artists who create an alternate point of view on the migrant condition. They track what Dominic Thomas (2012) names “new grammars of migration” and how these grammars restructure political practices towards migrants. They pursue the ways that migrants interact with Spanish, Italian, and French vernaculars, and enter into cultures in Europe through various networks and local organizations who engage with them.

Culture, language, art at stake

In all these ways, this history of migration around Europe is a specifically socio-cultural one. It involves the growing and changing ensemble of representations, in speech, writing, visual arts, and other objects that people create in search of a sense of self, and a social commons in which they participate. We understand culture in the elementary sense that art critic Georges Didi-Huberman uses when he considers migration; it's a process of imagining one another through dialogue (Didi-Huberman and Giannari, 2017: 61). Words and images are the raw material, and what takes shape is less artifact or product than something dynamic. Contributors take culture as a social and aesthetic activity of making, one pursued by migrants along their way, as by those who witness them, and represent their lives in an act of support. In the line of writer John Berger and photographer Jean Mohr who made the first concerted effort to think of migrants around Europe with critical imagination, we work together across verbal and visual media (Berger and Mohr, 1975: 96).

Our investigations concentrate on three related cases. Each one is articulated, first, through language. We delimit areas by three Romance vernaculars: Italian, French, and Spanish. All three languages issue from an imperial language of enormous influence, a Latin imposed under Roman rule. Their shared lexicon bears the traces of uprooting peoples from their places and propelling many of them as servants and enslaved peoples into the unknown – into unfamiliar countries, as well as alien tongues. 5 Those who used any one of the three vernaculars were also familiar with other major languages – Arabic being one prime example. For those who practiced the early forms of Romance languages, it is difficult to imagine how they spoke and wrote without registering their multilingual environs. In our investigations of premodern cultures, we see how migrants are compelled by force of circumstance to “move around” several vernaculars. Because they changed places, and inhabited different countries, they lived and worked in the presence of a variety of languages. Suzanne Akbari and Karla Mallette's collective of critics traverse a “sea of languages” in thirteenth- and fourteenth-century Mediterranean cultures: Arabic with Spanish and Italian – and the Ur-mother tongue, Latin, which Mallette plumbs deeply; Sharon Kinoshita gives attention to the many multilingual resonances in French in Cyprus at the eastern periphery (Mallette, 2021; Akbari and Mallette, 2013; Kinoshita, 2020; and Ruiz, 2017: 166). Alison Cornish reminds us that a common “Romance” parlance among writers of the pedigree of Bruno Latini and Dante was also used by merchants for pragmatic reasons (Cornish, 2006: 310). 6 In the north of the European continent, at much the same time, we can track a similar and widespread multilingual practice: French vying and converging with English and Flemish, as Jonathan Hsy and Ardis Butterfield demonstrate (Hsy, 2017; Butterfield, 2009).

In twentieth-century cultures around Europe, speakers and writers who need to work across Romance vernaculars and the Semitic languages of Arabic, Amharic, Tigrinya, and Hebrew are prevalent, as they are in current times. Indeed, this modern-day version of the transfer of language and knowledge, translatio linguae et studii through the enforced transfer of political power, the translatio imperii, explains much about the acculturation of migrants. Those who are forced to move by the march of European empires, whether the Spanish one in North Africa, the French in the Maghreb and Francafrique, and the Italian in Libya and East Africa, find themselves obliged to speak and write otherwise. Our contributors turn their attention to the choices migrants make: how they respond to the necessity to communicate in the Romance languages of their supplementary cultures. Yet contributors also address how pragmatic – and ingenious – migrants are when it comes to expression. Whether they enter into Italian, French, or Spanish, each vernacular can become for them a lingua franca. In our analysis, each offers independent ways for people to express themselves and to create despite the considerable constraints of their circumstances.

Fiction is one principal use of language that we examine. The writer Juan Goytisolo, who insisted on recognizing such multilingual, multi-ethnic histories in his to-ing and fro-ing between Morocco and Spain, captures the imaginative potential of this verbal expression in the novel Reivindicación del conde don Julián (Count Julian, 1970). “Ever on the move,” he writes in Spanish, “my only sustenance your nourishing language.”  7 What is a useful tool is also a sustaining life force of sorts. Goytisolo is referring to the power that language confers to create figures and give free voice. Here it is his character talking, Count Julian of Ceuta, fashioned out of the eighth-century historical person, and made notorious by legend for enabling Tariq ibn Ziyad's Muslim warriors to invade Visigothic Spain. Goytisolo's Julian, who speaks Arabic-Castilian, gives voice to the human right of movement in speech and representation. This movement that individual speakers exercise and authors practice is one baseline of our thinking, and a subject that several contributors debate.

In all three of our chosen cases, Italian and French, as well as Spanish, contributors are alert to migrants’ expressiveness, those who adopt new languages in daily interaction, those who make them their own opportunistically, in inventive writing. That is why contributors also entertain the dynamic mixing of vernaculars. Somali and Arabic resonate in migrants’ speech and writing with Italian; so does French with Flemish, Kurdish, and Mandarin, and Spanish with Arabic. These are all examples of Europe's languages, and they take shape in art too. Franco-Lebanese graphic writer Zeina Abirached imagines this linguistic mix in images: “ever since my childhood I've been knitting a language made of two delicate and precious threads” (“Je tricote depuis l’enfance une langue constituée de deux fils fragiles et précieux”) (Abirached, 2015: 96–7).

Images offer a further medium for analyzing our three cases. Whether in textile, video, or sculpture, they prove equally crucial in determining what migrants invent from their experience and how they are represented. Today's ubiquitous image-making medium of photography allows us to follow people over huge distances by land and sea, over years. Photographs are themselves a form of transport, Berger remarks, two generations ago (Berger and Mohr, 1975: 17). Today's digital photography massively develops this mobility of image; it increases the ease and speed of making images that seem to award us even personal contact with those in transit. Since the controversial “Dublin” law in the European Union requiring migrants to seek asylum in the first country in which they arrive, these easily-made images can also prove a dangerous impediment to freedom of movement; if smartphone images are captured by authorities in Europe, they are used to justify detaining migrants against their will, in the country where they are first photographed, and deporting them. Contributors working on Spanish, French, and Italian fronts, mindful of these risks, still turn to photographs in order to chronicle migrants’ ways of living. They are careful to avoid the type of photograph that could identify individual migrants. When photographer Eric Leleu takes portraits of migrants along the Channel coast, for example, he does so when people cover their faces. Such carefully constructed images can nonetheless document something of the views of migrants passing through or blocked in camps today.

In our work, time-honored images of drawing and painting, as well as those of printing with engraved metal and woodcuts, join those of contemporary artists. Contributors embrace these media in order to see how early modern visual cultures depict migrants around Europe. The language of images provides clues about how and when peoples were stigmatized, about what they saw. Fifteenth-century manuscript illumination in the French-speaking north that depict numerous besieged cities represent groups stripped and exposed, visually debasing them as inferior. Painter Joachim Patinir details brutal scenes in the countryside, people fleeing their houses set on fire, scenes that could easily represent the wars in his early modern Flanders as a background for his biblical subject, the Holy Family in Flight from Egypt (Vergain, 2007). The fine arts of seventeenth-century Spanish courts are also telling. They include a drawing of Vicente Carducho, several large canvases of Vicent Mestre and Pere Oromig figuring crowds of Spanish Muslims gathered at the docks of port cities, on the verge of banishment from their homes, and expulsion from their own culture. Other contributors examine early maps and instruments. The rich traditions of Islamic sciences in the twelfth century offer material for exploring how precisely people's movements were plotted and facilitated.

Migrating in Spanish, Italian, French

The first case that the volume investigates, the Spanish one, brings us to a major interface of African and European continents. Bāb al-Magrib, “Gateway of the West” in Arabic, and Estrecho de Gibraltar, the “Strait” in Spanish, name the passageway between the Iberian peninsula and North Africa where people cross through the port city of Ceuta. 8 During early modern times, the traffic back and forth in this area was intense and violent: from Muslim conquerors of Hispania, to Christian crusaders facing off with the Almohad caliphate in the Maghreb, from uneasy cohabitation of three different communities to the State-sponsored expulsion of Spanish Muslims that James Amelang examines in this volume. 9 His work reconceives those known as Moriscos, as migrants. Amelang reviews ways to discover how they understood their plight, what happened after they were deported. The successive movements of peoples that resulted also typifies the area today. Thousands of Moroccans who continue to cross the Strait to work in Spain nourish contemporary Spanish Islamic cultures. When we consider this movement of people in socio-cultural terms, we approach what are destructive and fruitful transactions linguistically. Author and critic Abdelfattah Kilito represents this process wryly: “I speak every language, but in Arabic” (Kilito [2013], 2018). Writing this in French, Kilito acknowledges how languages acquired by force of colonial circumstance can also be transformed by every speaker. He captures the conflictual and creative energy of the multilingual situation familiar to many inhabiting both Magrebi and European cultures. The Diario de un ilegal (Diary of a Clandestine Migrant, 1999), which Moroccan journalist Rachid Nini wrote in Arabic, with an eye to its Castilian translation exemplifies this process. Anna Tybinko pursues this writer's bilingual ways of representing Moroccan migrants, addressing Maghrebi audiences and crossing into his host's language, confronting Spanish readers with precarious migrants working in their midst.

The second, Italian case marks another “Southern” interface between Africa and Europe. 10 It, too, brings us into an area characterized by deep interaction of Romance vernaculars and Arabic, issuing from the eleventh-century Norman invasion that forced Muslims to flee (Baby-Collin et al, 2021; Carpentieri and Symes 2020; Grévin, 2010). Akash Kumar contributes to the argument for the formative Arabo-Islamic literary culture of Sicily by way of Ibn Hamdîs' poetry lamenting his lost home. Studying the place of these Sicilian odes, the Siqilliyat, in an Italian literary tradition brings Kumar to weigh the repercussions of identifying Ibn Hamdîs as kin to another poet in exile, Dante. Today's migrant writers in Italy draw on a further range of language, the result of more recent, twentieth-century colonial occupations, yet no less part of the cultures of this country. Arabic is still influential; so are Somali, Amharic, and Tigrinya, the vernaculars of East Africa in Somalia, Ethiopia, and Eritrea, which Mussolini had attempted to claim for Fascist Italy. To account for the range of expressiveness of Italian writers means turning to all those who have “come home” from such former colonies, to consider their work as integral to Italian culture. A recent anthology of refugee stories co-edited by author Igiaba Scego and the UN Refugee Agency, examined by Saskia Ziolkowski, epitomizes the generative energy of this fiction, infused with African traditions. Artists working in stone and other materials also exemplify such transformations of Italian cultures. In Tenley Bick's view, the sculpted Gate of Europe that an artist erected on the island of Lampedusa provides a powerful social act of art-making; so does the lesser known intervention of another artist who walls up the Gate as a critique of the Italian welcome to migrants.

The French case, finally, takes us the farthest north in our investigation, to the Channel coast. This area too was invaded and occupied – constituted by a cavalcade of rival dynastic powers beginning in the fourteenth century. The French–English conflict is well-known; yet later early modern wars involving the Spanish Hapsburgs, and implicating Flemish, Genoese, and Turkish peoples, make this area a particularly crucial test case. Calais is the focus of analysis (Sanyal, 2017). 11 In this port city, the stand-off today between the French government backed by the European Union, and England Brexiting away, leads contributors to begin constructing the multilingual and multi-cultural history of the “North-Pas-de-Calais” area (Babels, 2017). First, Helen Solterer reconceptualizes Calais during the so-called Hundred Years' War in the fourteenth–fifteenth centuries as a site of forced migration. She makes this critical step by studying the idea of the enclave. Working with fiction about the premodern city under siege, and today's Calais harassed and hunkered down, she examines the imaginative territory that writers create for migrants and their communities. Vincent Joos takes another important step by investigating Chinese laborers brought to Calais during World War I. His inquiry, coupled with Eric Leleu's photography of the French area, devotes critical attention to one of the least-recognized groups of migrants in France and Europe.

By focusing work on these three cases, in Spanish, Italian, and French, we are drawing another map for the cultural history of migration around Europe. Contributors are introducing a less familiar human geography of Arab, African, and Asian peoples, both in early modern times and in the twentieth century. This socio-cultural map is given shape by the imagination, and is humanized by a greater range of peoples and their expressiveness. Contributors detail it through many types of fiction, visual arts, and material objects. The map that comes into view does not coincide fully with the one that traces migrant routes around Europe today – from the Middle East, the Turkish and Greek Mediterranean through the Balkans, as much as from the Maghreb, East and West Africa, northwards. Instead, mapping our socio-cultural history charts the movements of migrants in the way writers and artists represent them. This cartography in Italian, French, Spanish, we contend, bears as great a social force and cultural significance as the more familiar maps of migrant routes.

In this map, various focal points epitomize that force: Ceuta/Melilla for the Spanish case, Sicily/Lampedusa for the Italian, and Calais for the French. All three are known as chief chokepoints for people moving today from the global South to the north. 12 In our view, they are equally important points of entry into the history of migrant peoples around Europe. They function as powerful sites of imagination in premodern times. Furthermore, our cases highlight a significant and rich linguistic range. Even as we write in English, our comparative inquiry is articulated through other languages that bespeak major areas of migration. 13 The three cases extend the debate about migration beyond the British empire and its Globish. The chapters advance a socio-cultural history of migration that argues for a wider and influential multilingualism.

Interpreting migration

Investigating an ensemble of words, images, and things on a large scale, over many centuries and kilometers, is our chosen method for changing not only the conception of migrants, but also the ways they are perceived as “others.”  14 As writer Hisham Matar observes: “Only inside a book or in front of a painting can one truly be let into another's perspective” (Matar, 2019: 36–7). He came to this insight as he spent hours looking at Lorenzetti's fourteenth-century fresco, Buon Governo (Good Government), in Siena. It was forged through his efforts to make sense of having to flee Libya where Khaddafi's regime murdered his dissident father, and to come to London and New York where he makes his life writing. This coming-into-awareness becomes a basic principle in his work. It happens through his attentiveness to words and images, to ancient Bedouin poetry and Manet's painting, as his memoir, The Return, composed in his second language, makes clear.

Attentiveness to words and images means more than decoding and analyzing cultural artifacts. Becoming aware of someone else's perspective demands a form of radical empathy. As the historians Michelle Caswell and Marika Cifor write, radical empathy assumes “that we are inextricably bound to each other through relationships, that we live in complex relations to each other infused with power differences and inequities, and that we care about each other's well-being” (Caswell and Cifor, 2016: 31). The premodern lay people, poets, and artists who appear in this volume are not considered as distant others expelled or trapped, but as human beings who experience and narrate (im)mobility, as human beings who feel the nostalgia, the uneasiness, and sometimes the relief brought by moving “elsewhere.” As such, those migrating around premodern Europe are akin to today's migrants, who are too often accounted for in dehumanizing quantitative forms.

By thinking historically across languages, by taking into account human geography and its political evolution, contributors dislocate European immigration and investigate peoples’ movements in a non-teleological framework. The cultural history of migration we are composing responds to the habit of foreshortening its length and limiting it to twentieth-century examples. 15 Alongside dynamic migrant cultures around Europe from the history of present times or “living” memory, we place others from early, and modern eras. 16 This longue durée cultural history does not, however, aim for any comprehensive sweep. Composed case by case, it confronts in several specific ways the claims of culture wars that are over-simplifying public debates about present-day immigration in Europe.


The chapters are organized according to Romance language, in diptychs or triptychs. We use this ancient design that creates pairs or trios to provide a critical frame of comparison for our three cases. Each diptych juxtaposes a chapter on early modern migrant cultures with another on its contemporary ones. In this way, it heightens relations and contrasts within each case. What emerges is less a continuity of migrant cultures than their inter-relations. Structures common to the history of migrant cultures in Spanish, Italian, and French come to the fore, as well as connections between these cases.

The three diptychs set into relief a new, historically grounded conception of “migrants.” Recognizing the early modern Moriscos in the Spanish kingdom, or Dante, figurehead of an Italian tradition, as a migrant writer, or the multitudes sent into flight by the Hundred Years' War in the French kingdom, including poet Eustache Deschamps, fundamentally changes the critical perception of the cultures of migration. It also enriches the understanding of contemporary migrants: those Magrebi who cross into Spain now and write about their itinerancy; those bringing out the Somali and Libyan character of Italian literature and art today; those who labored around Calais a hundred years ago. This reconceptualization extends the timeline of migration around Europe. The implications for European literatures, social cultures, and the arts are profound: for the ethnic mix of culture in Spanish; for the literary crowns in Italian; for the multi-cultural matrix in French.

The opening diptych that frames the whole collection of chapters introduces the argument for the decisive participation of migrants in European cultures by examining material culture. Pedro Raposo takes up a scientific instrument, the astrolabe made and used throughout the Islamic world from at least the seventh century onwards. His chapter introduces a premodern history that tracks the widespread movement and interaction of peoples across North Africa and the European continent which created a rich, common culture, however vigorously it was contested and fought over. His men of science from premodern Islamic Europe exemplify those people on the move in the Mediterranean whom Fernand Braudel described as “indispensable … who often brought with them new techniques, no less indispensable than their persons to urban life” (Braudel, 1976: 306). Raposo also addresses the ongoing work of shaping the public perception of such an object through museum exhibits.

In the final chapters, we return to artwork, to contemporary pieces of Raquel Salvatella de Prada, Barthélémy Toguo, Annette Messager, and Pedro Lasch. 17 Their work, juxtaposed with the premodern Catalan atlas and Jacques Callot's etchings reconfigure our vision of migration around Europe. 18 They bring the historical work of the volume to a culminating point and complete the final diptych with original pieces on today's migrant cultures. From Ceuta/Melilla to Calais, along paths of West Africans and others moving through the global South, they invite us to visualize the arts of migration in an expansive way.


1 In the introduction to the reissue of one of Pirenne's major works, Medieval Cities, Michael McCormick underlines the value of Pirenne's thesis for the “long, deep history of globalization” (Pirenne [1925], 2014: xxiii–iv).
2 “Just about the year 1000 there began a period of reclamation which was to continue, with steady increase, up to the end of the twelfth century. Europe ‘colonized’ herself” (Pirenne, [1925] 2014: 81).
3 Origo (1955). Sally McKee places Origo's work in the context of current research on medieval enslaved peoples (McKee, 2014: 285–6).
4 Some contributors are alert to the ways Cedric J. Robinson analyzes these categories in historical perspective (Robinson, 2020: 22–4). See also historian El Hamel (2013). On perceptions in premodern Europe, see Phillips (2017); on racializing tropes in the premodern Magreb, see al Azmeh (1992).
5 Erich Auerbach, in the vanguard generation of philologists, explored this history ([1949] 1961: 15–19).
6 See also Eisner (2020) on vernacularization.
7 Goytisolo, Lane, trans. (1989: 104).
8 On Ceuta, see Fuchs and Liang (2011: 264–5) and Hirsch and Pontin (2009: 94). On the Arabo-Islamic understanding of these contact zones between dar-es-Islam and “Unbeliever” or enemy zones, see Brauer (1995): 11–15.
9 Brann (2021) studies the challenge of taking the full measure of Muslim and Jewish traditions during this period. Gilbert (2020) provides the social history of Arabic translation that is the frame for some of the Moriscos.
10 On migrants attempting to make it to Europe through this crossing, see Proglio et al. (2018). On the rescue operations on the high seas given the Italian government's restrictive measures, see accounts by our colleagues at Duke, Hardt and Mezzadra (2020).
11 For the visual arts of contemporary Calais, see Hicks and Mallet (2019), following their exhibit at the Pitts River Museum (2019), and Mendel (2017); and on the photography of laborers struggling on the international waters offshore, Calais vu par Allan Sekula, Deep Six / Passer au bleu (2000); and Van Gelder (2015). Two artists of note working in Calais today are Agathe Verschaffel, Jank, and their exhibition/installation, “TransPORTs – Calais vue du port,” Musée des beaux arts, Calais, December 2016–March 2017.
12 Thomas Nail underscores the importance of specific sites in changing perceptions (Nail, 2015: 5).
13 See Chedgzoy et al. (2018). This collection is entirely devoted to English-speaking Britain. One contemporary comparative project of note is Abderrezak (2016).
14 Homi Bhabha gives a trenchant rationale of the particular methods of humanities; see his Introduction to Sorensen (2018: 10). Cox et al. (2020) is a powerful example recently published. See also Boucheron (2017). Khanmohamadi (2013) represents the ethnographic approach in the humanities focused on premodern cultures.
15 See also De Vivo (2015: 419); Duclassen and Duclassen (2012).
16 On the history of present times, see Passerini et al. (2020): 2–3.
17 The work of Salvatella de Prada, Toguo, and Lasch stands in sharp contrast and opposition to the practices of art plunder. Toguo's New World Climax woodcuts were the subject of students’ research projects over several years at Duke University and benefitted from his first-time visit to the American South. It is important to note that none of the other [premodern] art objects installed were involved in any such incidents of plunder.
18 The installations of this work at the Nasher Museum, Duke University, are among several recent pioneering exhibits that bring into view these vibrant migrant cultures in some of its historical depth. See also Berzock (2019).


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