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In the wake of the 2015 Mediterranean refugee crisis, a growing number of scholars has increasingly turned to the “Black Mediterranean” as an analytical framework for understanding the historical and geographical specificities of Blackness in the Mediterranean region. This work draws upon and extends Paul Gilroy’s powerful theorizations of the Black Atlantic by asking how Blackness is constructed, lived, and transformed in a region that has been alternatively understood as a “cultural crossroads” at the heart of European civilization, a source of dangerous racial contamination, and—more recently—as the deadliest border crossing in the world. But the Black Mediterranean is not a claim to any incommensurable difference or exceptionalism. Rather, drawing on insights from Black Geographies, supposedly “marginal” sites are actually relational spaces that offer profound insights about the organization of the modern world. In this sense, then, the Mediterranean is also a powerful site from which to theorize about race, gender, citizenship, and Blackness on a global (rather than purely regional) scale. Indeed, if we take Cedric Robinson at his word, the origins of racial capitalism actually lie in the Mediterranean, which served as a laboratory of sorts for the technologies of subordination that were then exported to the Atlantic. And today, some of the most powerful mobilizations unfolding against border fortification, state racism, heteropatriarchal regimes of citizenship, and coloniality are taking place across the Mediterranean and southern Europe.



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