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The Mediterranean Incarnate

Region Formation between Sicily and Tunisia since World War II

In The Mediterranean Incarnate, anthropologist Naor Ben-Yehoyada takes us aboard the Naumachos for a thirty-seven-day voyage in the fishing grounds between Sicily and Tunisia. He also takes us on a historical exploration of the past eighty years to show how the Mediterranean has reemerged as a modern transnational region. From Sicilian poaching in North African territory to the construction of the TransMediterranean gas pipeline, Ben-Yehoyada examines the transformation of political action, imaginaries, and relations in the central Mediterranean while detailing the remarkable bonds that have formed between the Sicilians and Tunisians who live on its waters.
The book centers on the town of Mazara del Vallo, located on the southwestern tip of Sicily some ninety nautical miles northeast of the African shore. Ben-Yehoyada intertwines the town’s recent turbulent history—which has been fraught with conflicts over fishing rights, development projects, and how the Mediterranean should figure in Italian politics at large—with deep accounts of life aboard the Naumacho, linking ethnography with historical anthropology and political-economic analysis. Through this sophisticated approach, he crafts a new viewpoint on the historical processes of transnational region formation, one offered by these moving ships as they weave together new social and political constellations.

288 pages | 21 halftones | 6 x 9 | © 2017

Anthropology: Cultural and Social Anthropology

Geography: Cultural and Historical Geography, Social and Political Geography


“In this brilliant study, fishermen, mafiosi, labor activists, oil company executives, smugglers, and EU officials join forces to re-invent the Mediterranean. It is a dynamic, shape-shifting place, and Ben-Yehoyada shows us what it is made of: kinship, politics, historical disagreements, shared infrastructure, and (yes) succulent shrimp and lobster.”

Andrew Shryock, University of Michigan

“Ben-Yehoyada’s The Mediterranean Incarnate is outstanding for its originality and intellectual contributions to the history of the Mediterranean and to the anthropology of politics and maritime life, particularly in Europe and North Africa. It’s an engaging ethnography with moments of drama that may find an additional audience among those interested in the experiences of life at sea.”

Jane Schneider, City University of New York

Table of Contents

List of figures

ONE / Introduction
TWO / Whose Strike Is It?
THREE / The Craft of Expansive Navigation
FOUR / Fish and Bait
FIVE / One Big Family
SIX / Pissing Rage
SEVEN / Terms of Transcultural Affinity

Conclusion: Mediterranean Afterlife of a Dying Fishing Town



Department of Anthropology, William and Mary: Vinson Sutlive Book Prize in Historical Anthropology

Society for the Anthropology of Europe: William A. Douglass Prize in Europeanist Anthropology
Honorable Mention

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