RESEARCH PROJECT 2016-2018

Maritime Networks as a Factor in European Integration

The results of this research project will be presented at Prato during the 50th Study Week (May 13th-17th 2018)
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To celebrate the 50th Settimana (13-17 May, 2018), a comprehensive theme has been chosen, that takes Fernand Braudel’s concept of the Mediterranean as a starting point. His vision of a closed sea as a geographical opportunity for economic integration beyond the diversity of religions, languages, and ethnical and political entities, continues to function as a model for studies in a wide range of contexts. It has been applied to prehistoric archaeology(1) as well as to the contemporary East- and South-East-Asian seas.(2) The ecological and the cultural dimensions of Mediterranean interactions have been elaborated in the very long term.(3) Other European seas have been studied as particular units, of which the fairly closed Baltic is a classic case,(4) but open seas followed suit.(5)

Maritime empires are another classical field of studies which are ripe for comparative analysis.(6) Through its numerous seminars and publications, the Centre GISEM has contributed considerably to the study of European integration from the 13th to the 16th century. The endeavour for the 50th Settimana should go beyond the study of single systems in isolation to combine different analyses of closed and open seas or coastal areas, in order to understand the integrative role played by maritime connections around Europe. These have been underestimated as a basis of European civilization through their ongoing massive exchange of persons and goods. Since transport on water was easier in pre-industrial societies than overland, it appears to be time to draw attention to the ways by which these linkages operated on the scale of the European continent and with its Asian and North-African trading partners.

Our approach rests on a whole set of theories, which we should aim to interlock:

The Settimana aims to build on great research traditions on a regional or thematic basis, which have seldom been integrated on a truly continental scale. Immanuel Wallerstein elaborated Braudel’s concept by conceptualising its intercultural and transnational dimensions, and its role in a system of division of labour. He called it ‘a “world” system, not because it encompasses the whole world, but because it is larger than any juridically-defined political unit. And it is a “world-economy” because the basic linkage between the parts of the system is economic’. The institutional and legal approaches have been studied under the aegis of the Société Jean Bodin,(9) and our Istituto organized the 2005 Settimana on Richezza del Mare, Richezza dal Mare which delivered the gorgeous catch of 1239 pages which mainly dealt with the products of the sea, although some contributions hint to our direction.(10) In 2008-2009, the University of Athens launched a programme on ‘The Mediterranean and its Seas: Natural, Social, Political Environments and Landscapes, 15th-20th centuries’.(11) The network and diaspora aspect have also beensubject of volumes.(12) It is time now to link the various aspects and regional research traditions into a coherent approach assessing:

We welcome papers coveringthe time period from 1000 to 1800.

We are interested in papers that deal with one or more of these questions:

  1. How did shipping routes serve as a connecting force?
  1. How did nodal points bring together different commercial spheres?
  1. To what extent did free trade and protection facilitate the integration of maritime networks?
  1. Which features of cultural exchange served to integrate maritime networks or were their particular products?
  1. Intercontinental Exchanges
Expected results

The results of the selected research for the project will be presented and discussed at Prato in the course of the Study Week2018. After the discussion at the Settimana sessions, cholars may complete and revise their texts by 30 June 2018. All contributions received by the institute will be subject to anonymous adjudication before publication.

Call for papers

Scholars are invited to send their proposal by compiling an abstract that will be reviewed by the Scientific Council Committee.

The papershould represent an original contribution and either generally comparative or a specific case-study that speaks to the larger questions set out here.

Papers proposed by projects or collaborative groups that link scholars from different countries and institutions will be assessed with particular interest if they offer a comparative analysis in geographical or diachronic terms across two or more related research themes. We will also consider innovative session formats for these type of proposals.

The completed format must be received at the following address by 15 October 2016:
Fondazione Istituto Internazionale di Storia Economica “F. Datini”
Via ser Lapo Mazzei 37, I 59100 Prato, ITALY
e-mail: datini@istitutodatini.it

The Scientific Council Committee will only take fully completed formats into consideration and will decide whether they have been accepted by 2016, when authors of the selected proposals will be notified. Depending on the Institute’s financial resources, at least 25 scholars will be provided with hospitality at Prato for the Study Week. The Council may also invite up to 20 additionalscholars to participate in the project without any right to hospitality or reimbursement.
The Fondazione Datini will award for the Prato conference up to 10 Travel Bursaries to cover travel costs for the conference to the maximum of 250 euros per grant for selected postgraduate doctoral students and postdoctoral scholars who do not hold a full-time academic position. Applicants must send the travel bursaries form to the Fondazione Datini with their paper by 31 March 2018. The grant will be paid during the conference on the presentation of travel receipts.
The members of the Council are: Erik Aerts (Leuven, President), Laurence Fontaine (Paris, Vice-President), Carlo Marco Belfanti (Brescia, Vice-President), Giampiero Nigro (Florence, Scientific Director), Hilario Casado Alonso (Valladolid), Sergej Pavlovič Karpov (Moscow), Olga Katsiardi-Hering (Athens), Maryanne Kowaleski (New York), Paolo Malanima (Catanzaro), Michael North (Greifswald), Luciano Palermo (Tuscia), Gaetano Sabatini (Rome Tre).

All submitted contributions must be original and not previously published or translated from previous publications.

The provisional texts of the selected contributions must reach the Fondazione Datini (Datini Foundation) by 31 March 2018. They will be put online (with protected access reserved for the participants of the project and members of the Scientific Committee) in the Institute’s webpages before the Week of Studies in order to allow a deeper discussion of their contents.

At the Settimana participants will offer a summary presentation of their contribution lasting 20 minutes.

The definitive texts of the paper, revised by the authors following the discussion (maximum 60,000 characters) must be sent to the Institute by 30 June 2018.

They will be subject to anonymous adjudication. Texts that pass the assessment stage will be published in a special volume (together with an abstract prepared by the author) within a year. For the purpose of publication, texts will be accepted in Italian, French, English, Spanish and German. Simultaneous translation from and to Italian and English will be carried out during the Study Week.


(1) C. Broodbank, The Making of the Middle Sea. A History of the Mediterranean from the Beginning to the Emergence of the Classical World, London 2013.

(2) F. Gipouloux,  Méditerrannée asiatique: villes portuaires et réseaux marchands en Chine, au Japon et en Asie du Sud-est, XVIe-XXIe siècles, Paris 2009.

(3) P. Horden, N. Purcell, The Corrupting Sea: A Study of Mediterranean History, Oxford-Malden 2000; F. Tabak, The waning of the Mediterranean 1550-1870. A geohistorical Approach, Baltimore 2007; J. J. Norwich, The Middle Sea: a history of the Mediterranean. London 2010; D. Abulafia, The Great Sea. A Human History of the Mediterranean, Oxford 2011.

(4) H. Küster, Die Ostsee: Eine Natur- und Kulturgeschichte, Munich 2002; A. Palmer, Northern Shores: A History of the Baltic Sea and its Peoples,London 2005; M. North, The Baltic. A History, Cambridge Ma.-London 2015; The North Sea and Culture 1550-1800, J. Roding, L. Heerma van Voss (eds), Hilversum 1996.

(5) Espaces d’échanges en Méditerranée. Antiquité et Moyen Age, F. Clément, J. Tolan, J. Wilgaux (eds), Rennes 2006 ; Ports et littoraux de l’Europe atlantique. Transformations naturelles et aménagements humains (XIVe-XVIe siècles), M. Bochaca, J.-L. Sarrazin (eds), Rennes 2007; Les territoires de la Méditerranée, XIe-XVIe siècle, A. Nef (ed.), Rennes 2013 ; M. Pye, The Edge of the World. How the North Sea Made Us Who We Are, London 2014.

(6) Etat et colonisation au Moyen Age et à la Renaissance, M. Balard (ed.), Lyon 1989 deals essentially with the Mediterranean and Black Sea areas ; The Rise of Merchant Empires. Long-distance Trade in the early Modern World 1350-1750, J. Tracy (ed.), Cambridge 1990; Idem, The Political Economy of Merchant Empires, Cambridge 1991.

(7) Commercial Networks and European Cities, 1400-1800, A. Caracausi, C. Jeggle (eds), London 2014.

(8) J. Fynn-Paul, War, Entrepreneurs and the State in Europe and the Mediterranean, 1300-1800, Leiden 2014.

(9) Les Grandes Escales, Recueils de la Société Jean Bodin, XXII to XXIV, Brussels 1974.

(10) 2 vols., nr. 37, Florence 2006.

(12) Merchant Colonies in the Early Modern Period, V.N. Zakharov, G. Harlaftis, O. Katsiardi-Hering (eds), London 2012; Diaspora Entrepreneurial Networks. Four Centuries of History, I. Baghdiantz McCabe, G. Harlaftis, I. Pepelasis Minoglou (eds), Oxford 2005; Mediterranean Diasporas. Politics and Ideas in the Long 19th century, M. Isabella, K. Zanou (eds), London-N.Y 2015 .


[research project: download the file .pdf]
[format: download the file .doc ]

Last update: 16-01-2017
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