In modern Europe, the Mediterranean Sea has become an abridged or
forgotten sea. At present, under the pressure of “Fortress Europe”, it risks its
waters being turned into walls. Nevertheless, the vision of the Mediterranean
as a uniform, monolithic European sea melts away as soon as we remind
ourselves of its history, a history of encounters and clashes, and of continuous
dislocations (F. Braudel). This essay aims to survey this abridging historical
process, which stretches back to the Mediterranean colonial history dominated
by northern modernity, from postcolonial (I. Chambers) and meridian (F.
Cassano) perspectives. Only from these standpoints can one deconstruct the
verticalist northern ideology that sees the “modern” north sitting above the
“backward” south, and as a consequence the Mediterranean as either a
European lake or a forgotten sea: a sea that is good at reminding Europe of its
ancient origins but not at building a bridge between the Europeans and the
other peoples sitting around the same pond.