A Message from the PIMo Action Chair, Giovanni Tarantino


Dear friends of PIMo,

We are fast approaching the end of the first year of our Cost Action. It has been a year of exciting achievements, during which many well-attended events have been or are soon to be held across Europe (such as the ones convened in Brussels, Lecce, Florence, Lisbon, Geneva, Paris, and Sofia). This Newsletter details some of the outcomes of these exciting workshops. While we are working on the Budget and Work Plan for the second year of PIMo, I would like to encourage all of you to get in touch with me, or the Vice-Chair Katrina O’Loughlin, or the WG Leaders to discuss any further activity pertinent to the goals of the Action that you might wish to convene or participate in. I would also like to take this opportunity to once again encourage you to share some of the initial results of your PIMo research by offering ‘visual papers’ (max. 1,000 words) to appear in the ‘News and Views’ section of our website. Moreover, I am delighted to announce that the Core Group of PIMo was able to award quite a large number of STSM and ITC Conference Grants this year, and that the entire fund allocated for this purpose has now been used. A new round of calls will be announced around the middle of May 2020.

I was extremely pleased to host PIMo’s first Annual Conference, Encounters at Sea: Material and Symbolic Mobility across the Mediterranean, in Florence. Everyone agreed that it was a great success. A volume growing out of the exhibition that complemented the symposium (Encounters at Sea: People, Paper and Objects in Motion at the Riccardiana Library), authored by José María Pérez Fernández, Giorgio Riello, Cátia Antunes and myself, will soon be released in both print and Open Access formats.

There is no question that the decision to hold the Florence conference in the breathtakingly magnificent setting of a historical library made this stimulating and well attended event one to remember. One of the most striking items in the exhibition was Richard Verstegan’s Theatrum crudelitatum haereticorum nostri temporis, first published in Antwerp in 1587. The conflicts arising from the Reformation and the religious changes it entailed were experienced viscerally and psychologically. An etching from this exemplary piece of propaganda for Philip II of Spain, aptly described as an Armada pamphlet, illustrates the massacre of forty Jesuits off the coast of Madeira at the hands of Huguenot buccaneers. Witnesses reported that the Jesuit Inácio de Azevedo was killed and then tossed into the sea, but miraculously remained afloat. For a modern-day reader, the image of floating corpses inevitably evokes the heartrending pictures we see today of the lifeless bodies of undocumented migrants – unnamed and unmourned – who drown in the Mediterrarean and are washed up on the shores of coastal towns, where they have become a raw and ingrained feature of lived experience. As the Algerian sociologist Abdelmalek Sayad wrote, ‘death during emigration and in exile is a moment of truth, the death of the foreigner and death in a foreign land is a moment of truth for everyone.’ It is unsurprising but nonetheless depressing that the spread of the coronavirus in Italy has been seized upon in some quarters to attack the Government over the influx of migrants and refugees into the country. But this sadly commonplace strategy has backfired on this occasion for the most obvious of reasons: disease does not discriminate. The very unusual and discomforting restrictions on movement placed upon travellers from Italy, and the increasing number of reports of verbal and physical abuse directed at ethnic, racial, or national groups, including Italians, will hopefully provide a timely and soul-healing reminder of our shared humanity.


This Year’s Successful Events

Annual PIMo Conference, ‘Encounters at Sea: Material and Symbolic Mobility
across the Mediterranean’, Biblioteca Riccardiana, Florence, 13-14 February 

Over the course of two days in the historic Biblioteca Riccardiana, more than 50 PIMo researchers and local academics gathered to explore the fascinating theme of ‘Encounters at Sea: Material and Symbolic Mobility across the Mediterranean.’ The papers covered topics as diverse as woodworm in ships, the mathematics of the astrolabe, libraries lost at sea, and paper credit in Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe  while also engaging with the history of a broad sweep of the Mediterranean and its hinterlands.  The presenters effectively highlighted the contrasts and commonalities that have shaped the material histories that have emerged from the Mediterranean, a space of transit, exchange, imagination, and/or limitation. The stimulating keynote from Prof Giorgio Riello challenged participants to think critically about material history as a discipline, reminding us that a global approach necessitates the provincialisation of Europe and a reassessment of  different modes of commerce and commodification. The Round Table session effectively tied all these different threads together, making a convincing case for the interdisciplinary approach that lies at the heart of our COST Action. The success of this first annual conference bodes well for the future development of our COST network in years to come.

Dónal Hassett, Science Communication Officer.

Working Group 3: Workshop in Simancas, 17 January

After a warm welcome by the Director of the archive, Julia Rodríguez de Diego, the morning started with a talk and a guided visit through the archive (including some interesting nooks and corners not usually open to the general public), by Joaquín Pérez Melero, Chief Archivist for Description and Conservation. This was followed by an opening address by our action’s leader, Giovanni Tarantino, who pointed out the necessity to connect our research efforts as a group with the core themes of PIMo: diasporas, migration, displacement and dispossession, loss and retrieval, emotional connected histories, cultural transfers, conversion and multiple identities, encounters at sea, the Mediterranean world.

Next there were a series of presentations on methodological issues and case studies on a range of topics which included the role of pamphlets and paper-based political and religious propaganda, the interface between orality and script in preaching and in the publication of sermons, two subjects very closely related to the stirring of the emotions in the realms of political, national and religious identities in early modern societies. Diplomatic relations conducted, inter alia, by means of relazioni, constituted the subject of another paper: this is a topic which is closely related to ideas, people and documents in motion, and also deals with questions of identity formation. In general, the material, documentary, textual, iconic and symbolic components that form part of diplomatic exchanges fall under the general phenomenon of transnational and transcultural political communication—these were channels for the establishment of power relations and hierarchies between different communities whose identities were frequently invested with important emotional capital.

In contrast with the spread of contents that conveyed doctrines, ideas, propaganda and news, some other papers approached the administrative use of paper—supremely exemplified by the archive that housed our seminar, which centralized documents that circulated on a global scale. Other papers underlined the fact that paper administration is inseparable from the emergence of the sort of power structures associated with the modern state. These included state control of movements of goods and people, in cases such as maritime law, the regulation of international sea transport in general, descending also to the control of individual ships, the records of their passengers, and the regulation of aspects such as those that affected, for instance, public health issues—many of them also closely related to immigration policies, as well as to individuals and communities who were forced into exile.

The day concluded with a debate on ideas in motion focused upon issues related to the transfer and communication of scientific knowledge. This does not just include a mere exchange of information, but also the establishment of power hierarchies for its appropriation and control, as well as the formats of the paper media employed for the circulation of this sort of contents. The seminar demonstrated the politically, culturally and emotionally charged issues related to paper in motion in all its formats and varieties, and how these documents contributed to the flow of power from a diversity of individual and common agents, not just in contemporary terms, but also in terms of the owners of such precious objects. These will be explored in more detailed in the Second Annual Conference of the PIMo Action, to be organised by this group and hosted in Granada in January 2021.

José María Pérez Fernández, Leader of Working Group 3: Paper in Motion.


PIMo Inaugural Event, Università del Salento, Lecce, 10-11 October 2019

It seems appropriate that the inaugural event of our People in Motion Action should occur in the beautiful and historic city of Lecce, in the heart of the Salento, a peninsula surrounded on three sides by the Mediterranean. The event began with a wide-ranging introduction from our Action Chair Giovanni Tarantino that laid out the ambitious vision that he and Action Vice-Chair Katrina O’Loughlin had for the development of the action the coming years. The participants then broke out into the four Working Groups, where they discussed common interests and planned for outcomes for the duration of the project. These planning sessions were punctuated by two impressive keynotes that provided ample food for thought as the PIMo members began to shape the project’s future. Prof Giancarlo Casale’s talk on different modes of displacement in the Ottoman Mediterranean called for a nuanced vision of the variety of forms of mobility between and within East and West in the region while Prof Iain Chambers stressed the need for a postcolonial understanding of the Mediterranean and an embrace of alternative epistemologies and archives. The discussions held, the ideas developed and the relationships forged at this inaugural bode very well for the success of the PIMo Action.

Upcoming Events

Working Group 4: Workshop ‘Movement and Displacement,’
University of Lisbon, 9-10 March

On March 9-10, 2020, WG4 will initiate a four-workshop series concerning the core of historical problems this workgroup will tackle for the duration of the COST ACTION PIMo.

The questions that we will look to answer in Lisbon include:
1) Who are the people moving?
2) What are the drivers and circumstances of human movement, beyond the binary of voluntary and involuntary? How do we historicise these?
3) What influence do historical conditions (regime, political, expulsion, persecution, and dynastic change; climate change and catastrophic natural disasters; food insecurity, personal safety; employment and economic opportunity) in the determination and/or conditioning of human movement?
4) What are the ‘positive’ contingencies for human movement like exploration and its powerful motivations of curiosity, wonder, and pleasure; trade; love and marriage, family, friendship, and global-transnational bonds.

The collective answers to these questions will serve as template to develop a model that may be used to intersect types of moment with patterns of displacement. This model will then map and explain the roots of human movement in- and across the Mediterranean (here understood within Braudelian and Abulafian terms and thus not reduced to the water front) as means to understand individual and collective behaviours, reactions and memory for different individuals, families and communities (subjects to be tackled in the workshops to come).

Methodologically, we challenge participants to depart from the analytical model proposed by global history (Belich et al 2016), by privileging locally contact and interaction, systemically circulation and integration and globally diffusion, outreach, dispersal, expansion and attraction. The research here will consider the urgency, and perhaps inevitability of human movement and begin to develop deliberative, sensitive, and ethical vocabularies to describe this large history of human dis/placement.

Full details of the programme can be found at the event’s page on the PIMo website: https://www.peopleinmotion-costaction.org/test/wg4-workshop/



Working Group 4: ‘Muslim Memories of Europe: Circulation and Politics of Remembrance,’ Sciences-Po Paris, March 27
This workshop, co-organised with the Centre d’Histoire Sociale de Sceinces-Po Paris, will explore the multiple forms of circulation of Muslims in Europe and the wide range of memory discourses to which they have given rise. Drawing together specialists from the fields of Ottoman, Mediterranean, and colonial history and working across periods from the Early Modern to the contemporary, this event will trace the long-term legacies of Muslim mobility in Europe, asking how they might shape our understanding of the place of Islamic faith and culture in the politics of remembrance in times past and present.

Working Group 1: ‘Geographies of liminal objects: crossing borders, new meanings and emotional bonds,’ Sofia, 27 March

Movements of objects in the Mediterranean have always involved, first and foremost, commodities of different kinds that were bought, sold, appropriated or exchanged, from unprocessed or partially processed goods (such as grain, fruits and vegetable or precious metals), global commodities (i.e. cotton, tea, coffee) to luxury items, often used in diplomatic gift exchanges. Equally important, even though less investigated, are the many objects of daily use that travelers, diplomats and missionaries often carried with them in foreign lands for personal use.

These movements compose a complicated geography of objects through which it is possible to reconstruct multiple networks of people, commerce, exchanges and shared practices. Many of these objects crossing geographical, political and cultural borders, in situations of contacts, often acquired new forms of use while their meaning was constantly renegotiated. This appears evident, for instance, when the use of certain objects was associated with liminal personas, shifting, voluntarily or involuntarily, between different worlds (i.e. Islam and Christianity, East and West), such as travellers, merchants or slaves returning home after having been prisoners of the ‘Infidel’. Flags and banners captured during military battles and then reused, often in religious places, to celebrate the defeat of the enemy; items of clothing that were reutilized in different contexts for a different purpose (i.e. returned slaves wearing shabby dresses and shackles and chains even after their return to Christianity as a proof of having been enslaved without apostatizing); watches/clocks which sometimes served as a marker of social status rather than as an instrument of time-measuring; cultural objects collected as ethnographic specimens or objet d’art are only some of the objects that acquire new uses, new meanings and new emotional attachments. This workshop will aim to investigate liminal objects and the new geographies that they produced, examining, at the same time, how they carry the viewer and the user to new perceptions, definitions and emotional bonds. Further exploring how these new geographies often limited perceptions and definitions, while also achieving new dimensions of openness and indeterminacy.

Full details of the programme can be found on the event’s page on the PIMo website: https://www.peopleinmotion-costaction.org/test/wg-1-workshop-geographies-of-liminal-objects-sofia-march-27/



Working Group 2: ‘Fear: A Workshop in History of Emotions,’ Geneva, March 31

The first of a series of four workshops organized by WG2 Ideas in motion is associated with the festival Histoire et Cité, which takes place on March 31 2020 in Geneva and is dedicated to “Fear.”

WG2 is interested in developing a better understanding of genealogies of concepts and categories in a decentered perspective, asking in which ways cultural entanglements, displacements and encounters contribute to such genealogies. In our workshops we will shed new light on various forms of cultural transfer, translation and appropriation that have fashioned the Mediterranean world and its real or imagined communities and geographies. A critical objective of our project is indeed to question the way in which the emotional experience of exile, distance, displacement, challenges traditional modes of thinking or religious traditions, transforms cultural perceptions and impacts the history of ideas.

The first workshop, revolving around a series of case studies, will be centered on the question of how migration, displacement or, more generally movement affects ideas about fear. Fear is part of the human evolutionary equipment to survive, to assert ideals, to do politics. Is it useful or is it an instrument of subjection and tyranny, of rejection and separation? What narratives exist about it? We will consider in particular how fear emerges as a topic of discussion both for displaced people and for the communities in which they enter. The fear of God will be an avenue of investigation, against the background of migration, conversion, religion and emotion. A second relates to the figures of fear such as enemies, monsters or more general Others. A third to the fear of nature and the elements: the sea, storms, foreign landscapes. Yet another avenue is that of bodily fears provoked by physical contacts, food, and diseases. And finally, fear as a political instrument is a central topic.

Full details of the programme can be found at the event’s page on the PIMo website: https://www.peopleinmotion-costaction.org/test/wg2-workshop/


Second Annual Conference hosted by Working Group 3: Paper in Motion
in Granada, January 2021

We are delighted to announce that our Second Annual Conference will take place in January 2021 in the historic city of Granada. The conference organisers from WG3 will soon issue a thematic call for papers for this conference. Please do keep an eye on the PIMo website to ensure you are up to date with the plans for this and many other events that are in the pipeline.

PIMo News



PIMo Supporting Knowledge Exchange

The Mediterranean has always been a key space for knowledge exchange across cultural, religious and linguistic boundaries. It is thus fitting that our COST Action has been able to support a range of scholars in the exchange and dissemination of their research through our Short Term Scientific Missions (STSMs) and our Inclusivity Target Countries Conference grants (ITCs).

The Short Term Scientific Missions are directed to supporting individual mobility, institutional visits, and collaboration between individual scholars located in a Participating COST Full member / COST Cooperating Member country. This grant period, PIMo facilitated 10 STSM’s, with a total value of €17100.

Inclusivity Target Country Conference Grants are aimed at supporting young researchers from participating ITC to attend relevant international conferences not specifically organised by the COST Action. This grant period, PIMo offered two ITC grants, with a total value of €1400.

These schemes have contributed to the solidifying of links between PIMo members and the development of new collaborative forms of research that will be central to the project’s future outcomes.

We will, of course, be offering support in both of these schemes in the coming grant period. We will inform you when the new calls for both the STSMs and the ITCs are launched. We would encourage you all to consider applying when eligible and/or promoting these schemes to colleagues.

For more details, please see the previous calls and FAQs on our PIMo website: https://www.peopleinmotion-costaction.org/get-involved/
An updated list of qualifying Inclusivity Target Countries can be found here: https://www.cost.eu/who-we-are/cost-strategy/excellence-and-inclusiveness/


Big Changes in Working Group 1: Objects in Motion

This first year of this project has involved lots of organisational efforts on the part of our Working Group Leaders. Irena Radić Rossi put in lots of hard work getting Working Group 1: Objects in Motion off the ground as its initial leader. She has since passed the torch to Rosita D’Amora, whose appointment as Working Group leader was approved by the Management Committee. We are very grateful to Irena for all the efforts she put into making this group a success and look forward to her continued contributions as a PIMo member. We wish Rosita all the best with her leadership of WG1 and eagerly anticipate the future events she and her fellow members will organise.


Brexit Update from Action Vice-Chair Katrina O’Loughlin

Trying to understand the potential impact of Brexit on the UK’s involvement in COST projects has meant a period of prolonged uncertainty for British scholars.

Advice from COST in late 2019 provided some reassurance for UK participants in the event of a ‘No-Deal’ Brexit, where the UK government committed to provide funding for eligible UK participation until the end of 2020.  In an announcement dated 24 October 2019 the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy published the following Government Guarantee for ‘expenses funding’ connected with COST Actions:

For UK participation in COST Action activities, the guarantee will cover reimbursement of travel expenses for:

  • meetings
  • training schools
  • short-term scientific missions

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy will administer expenses claims for UK participation in COST.

What remained unclear however, for British researchers involved in PIMo (including myself), is what arrangements would be made as part of Brexit negotiations after the outcome of the 2019 General Election to be held on 12 December. When the Conservatives, under Boris Johnson, were returned with a large majority, the United Kingdom was set to withdraw from the EU on the 31st January, 2020. On the 30 January, immediately prior Britain’s exit, the Head of Science Operations, Dr. Primož Pristovšek, contacted UK members with the following advice:

“Considering the vote that took place at European Parliament on 29 Jan 2020, the Withdrawal Agreement between the UK and the European Union will enter into force on 31 Jan 2020.
Therefore, until the end of Horizon 2020, the COST Association will keep funding the UK affiliated participants in all COST activities.
In this context, all measures adopted in 2019 in view of a potential no-deal Brexit are withdrawn.
At this stage, there is no indication on the potential eligibility of UK affiliated participants (including Grant Holders) under Horizon Europe as this will depend on the Free Trade Agreement negotiations between the UK and the EU. The COST Association will therefore attentively follow the developments of Brexit and act in the best interests of the European research and innovation community.”

It would seem, on this current advice, that while UK affiliated participants will be funded until the end of Horizon 2020, our future in COST after that point is still, sadly, unclear.

Get Involved in the PIMo Community

As we set on the second year of our Action, the leaders of the PIMo project would love to encourage you all to get involved in our upcoming events. Please consider applying to participate in our Annual Conference in Granada and do consider submitting applications for the forthcoming calls for Short Term Scientific Missions and Inclusive Target Country Grants. We would encourage you to reach out to Working Group Leaders, the Science Communication Officer and the Action Chair and Vice-Chair if you are not sure how to go about participating more extensively in the project. Please do check in our website for the most up-to-date details on our activities.

Our project is primarily about establishing a vibrant and dynamic community of scholars working across geographical, disciplinary, linguistic and cultural boundaries. We would love for you to play an active role in this community. We look forward to hearing from you and seeing you in the months and years to come.