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.
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/