The second edition of the SNAP Bulletin revolves around the theme of connected experiences in the Mediterranean. Recent historiographical discussions have done much to advance our understanding of what it means to write a more balanced world history. Terms and ideas like ‘entanglement,’ ‘enmeshed,’ ‘intertwined’ have all been used to advance our conceptual understanding of this important historiographical trend. Yet, more recently, scholars have pushed back against the usefulness of these terms. As Sanjay Subrahmanyam asserts, “one would be hard pressed to find non-entangled histories” (19). Instead, Subrahmanyam and others find greater value in the term ‘connected history.’
Debates about terminology aside, what does it mean to write a ‘connected history?’ While this methodology is likely nothing new to our readers, there is still much debate about the process. That is, how does one write a connected history? In an attempt to answer this question, the Winter 2019 bulletin explores a specific approach to writing connected histories in the western Mediterranean: connected experiences. Both of our contributors dive deep into the social, cultural, and political connections experienced between Spain and North Africa. Aaron Stamper’s wonderful Story Map follows the two journeys of Luis del Mármol Carvajal (d. 1600) and Aḥmad ibn Qāsim al-Ḥajarī (d. 1650s). In doing so he focuses on the sensorial experiences of the two travelers as they criss-crossed the Mediterranean. Similarly, Daniel Hershenzon’s enlightening discussion of his recent book “The Captive Sea: Slavery, Communication, and Commerce in Early Modern Spain and the Mediterranean” describes the western Mediterranean experience of captivity, slavery, and redemption through the eyes of the multitude of actors who participated in these exchanges. Dealing with the ‘experience’ as a point of connection, both scholars are able to explore the complex and multivalent social, cultural, and political connections in order to provide us with a more intimate view into the connected life experiences of the early modern western Mediterranean.
We hope you enjoy this edition! We are always excited to work with new contributors - so if you have an idea for a post, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Subrahmanyam, Sanjay. 2019. Empires between Islam and Christianity, 1500-1800. Albany: State University of New York Press.