Discussion
Started 16th Dec, 2018
  • Centre of Albanological Studies

The Mediterranean Identity. How can we define it?

There are lot of scientific works and contributions on the cultural identity of Europe, Africa, Latin America, etc. What makes the Mediterranean different and how can be defined this Mediterranean identity?

Most recent answer

6th Jun, 2021
Nino Ghambashidze
V. Sarajishvili Tbilisi State Conservatoire; The Centre for History, Etnology, Religion Study and Propaganda; Georgian Asossiation of the Anamitical Psychology
Andreas, thanks, it's very interesting.
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Popular replies (1)

17th Dec, 2018
Andrey Podgurenko
Odessa National University
Definition is (a logically coherent) restriction. It means that features shared among many (or all) cannot serve as a starting point. It would be much better - and much more correct - to proceed with the definition of "identity" first.
Or, if not, we stay at the "Mediterranian diet" (with the exception of pork) as a basic conclusion.
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All replies (49)

16th Dec, 2018
El-Sayed El-Aswad
Anthropologist
The Mediterranean region is an important place for area studies. Despite it constitutes of different societies/countries belonging to Europe (France, Spain, Italy, Greece, Portugal and Turkey), Asia (Turkey [in both Asia and Europe], Syria, and Lebanon, for example) and Africa (Egypt, Libya, Tunisia , Algeria, Morocco), they share common features related to history, climate or environment, civilization, mythical/religious beliefs, food or diet, and caucasian race. Each feature, however, needs a special attention of rigorous study.
1 Recommendation
16th Dec, 2018
Ardian Muhaj
Centre of Albanological Studies
Of course that it is difficult to put clear cut definitions of identity even at smaller spatial levels, but I think that a Mediterranean cultural identity exists. The questions would be how can it be defined.
16th Dec, 2018
El-Sayed El-Aswad
Anthropologist
Well, some of the most common features that might shed light on the Mediterranean identity include sociability, collectivity, connectivity, pleasantness, agreeableness, joyfulness, lightness, wittiness, strong sense of humor, cheerfulness, optimism, adventurousness, esteem/honor, and high spirit.
1 Recommendation
17th Dec, 2018
Ardian Muhaj
Centre of Albanological Studies
Yes. All of these features define the Mediterranean identity. On the other side all of them are general for every region and identity in the planet. In our case, it can be said that those features are somewhat more evident in the Mediterranean.
1 Recommendation
17th Dec, 2018
Andrey Podgurenko
Odessa National University
Definition is (a logically coherent) restriction. It means that features shared among many (or all) cannot serve as a starting point. It would be much better - and much more correct - to proceed with the definition of "identity" first.
Or, if not, we stay at the "Mediterranian diet" (with the exception of pork) as a basic conclusion.
5 Recommendations
17th Dec, 2018
El-Sayed El-Aswad
Anthropologist
"Mediterranian diet" should be "Mediterranean diet". Regarding the definition, identity is a very complicated concept encompassing multiple dimensions. Therefore, it is the researcher's duty or responsibility to focus on what aspect/dimension he/she seeks to tackle. The question of the Mediterranean identity is very broad and cannot be reduced to diet. I addressed the concept of identity in another work which is different from this context. See
2 Recommendations
17th Dec, 2018
Ardian Muhaj
Centre of Albanological Studies
Thanks Prof. El-Aswad, for sharing this very valuable article that tells much about the discussion here.
22nd Dec, 2018
Ardian Muhaj
Centre of Albanological Studies
I think that Andrey is right if we consider that Mediterranean people and cultures share a typical life style that goes much beyond linguistic and religious differences.
22nd Dec, 2018
El-Sayed El-Aswad
Anthropologist
OK, but I do not understand the phrase: "...(with the exception of pork) as a basic conclusion". Pork in consumed by Christians, for example.
22nd Dec, 2018
Ardian Muhaj
Centre of Albanological Studies
His idea, I guess, is that the Mediterranean diet is what defines Mediterranean identity, if we don't define the concept of identity itself. And because pork is something that divides the three main Mediterranean cultures, it can not serve as an element of the Mediterranean identity.
22nd Dec, 2018
El-Sayed El-Aswad
Anthropologist
So, the entire idea of diet is not working. The problem is not only with "pork" as there are other items such as alcohol/wine (not to be consumed by Muslims). What is the alternative? The discussion, however, might lead to good outcome.
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22nd Dec, 2018
Ardian Muhaj
Centre of Albanological Studies
I think that the olive culture and olive oil culinary use is what makes the Mediterranean diet so unique.
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23rd Dec, 2018
El-Sayed El-Aswad
Anthropologist
We can add vegetables/salad (with olive oil)
23rd Dec, 2018
El-Sayed El-Aswad
Anthropologist
I think coffee shops are distinct Mediterranean features (particularly for socializing and entertainment).
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23rd Dec, 2018
Ardian Muhaj
Centre of Albanological Studies
Yes. Coffee drinking culture, olives and olive oil. There is the siesta and a typical musical taste also.
1 Recommendation
26th Dec, 2018
Nino Ghambashidze
V. Sarajishvili Tbilisi State Conservatoire; The Centre for History, Etnology, Religion Study and Propaganda; Georgian Asossiation of the Anamitical Psychology
To my mind, belongness to Mediterranean region can be defined, first of all by physical anthropology. Besides, I completely agree with El-Sayed El-Aswad's. If you listen to Georgian and Corsican polyphony , one will be amassed indeed. We, Georgians, descendants of ancient Colchians are devoted part of this region as well
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26th Dec, 2018
Ardian Muhaj
Centre of Albanological Studies
Yes. I agree with you Nino. I think that the Black Sea is part of the same Mediterranean cultural or civilizational identity.
26th Dec, 2018
El-Sayed El-Aswad
Anthropologist
Nino, Georgia is a beautiful country It shares with Turkey and other countries the magnificent Black sea (with splendid coasts). Although Georgia is not directly/geographically related to the Mediterranean basin, I think it shares very important characters of the Mediterranean culture, namely friendship, family relations and hospitality (good food).
2 Recommendations
26th Dec, 2018
Ardian Muhaj
Centre of Albanological Studies
Georgia is a Mediterranean country, for the reasons stated above, but also because of the history. The Mediterranean culture is deeply routed in that part of the Caucasus. The link and influence of the Mediterranean in Georgia was maintained not only through the Black Sea, but also through the Anatolian shore that led to Constantinople.
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27th Dec, 2018
Anne Sterling
Paul Smiths College
I would add the rich cross cultural influences from trade. The archeological evidence of Greeks theaters and and Roman aqueducts thorughout the region.
Also--the culture of fishing and the cuisines/dishes (cooked with olive oil/herbs)that were made possible by the bounty of the Mediterranean.
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27th Dec, 2018
Ardian Muhaj
Centre of Albanological Studies
Also, one of the most important identity markers are the three main religions that spread from the Mediterranean, all over the world.
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27th Dec, 2018
Josep Cladellas
Universitat Oberta de Catalunya
The mediterranan people didnt participate in the Center Europe Reform who finished the power of the Religion over the Kings and Queens.Separation of powers, political and religious. The Spanish Inquisition was the most terrible against liberty mouvement and that had and unfortunately have still today a very close mentality .The religion is still a real political power.That's the diference apart And I will extend over all the Mediterranean area. More if we talk abut mediterranean african countrys
1 Recommendation
28th Dec, 2018
El-Sayed El-Aswad
Anthropologist
Let's focus on culture and identity. Political aspects are very questionable and lead to conflict not peace. I do not want to get involved in this debate and say look at the neocons in some Western democracies! By the way, "countrys" should be "countries". Thank you for understanding.
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28th Dec, 2018
Josep Cladellas
Universitat Oberta de Catalunya
You have to think that all the culture of the called First World was borned in the Medterranean with the citys-state, Athens,Rome,Venice,Genive,Barcelonne, that create a culture who disaparead with Gutenberg. When central europe began to read because of imprenting books in south europe was borned the prohibtion of a lot of writings. We retourn at the same point . Inquisition more than 400' years. From 1478 till 1813
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28th Dec, 2018
Ardian Muhaj
Centre of Albanological Studies
Sure that Spanish Inquisition and many other inquisitions all over the world and throughout history have many things in common. Of course, it caused lot of pain not only to individuals but to the whole society, but I don't see it as linked to any Mediterranean cultural aspect or influence.
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29th Dec, 2018
Josep Cladellas
Universitat Oberta de Catalunya
I beg your pardon both of you, Mr.Ardian and Mr. El-Sayed but culture is all that we learn and we recibe. Another completly different matter is wath we belive. The antrpologist E.B. Taylor, who was the first to define culture as all the knowledge, art,moral,ideas .........And more than this, Averroes, from Cordova's Califat also call culture to any lerning in life. If you are looking from something as a commun in the Mediterranean area you must looking for in the past. Not now,except olive oil and the sea.
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29th Dec, 2018
Ardian Muhaj
Centre of Albanological Studies
Thanks Mr. Josep. The tradition or the past is where are the fundaments of the Mediterranean culture or identity. Everything comes from the past and becomes past..
29th Dec, 2018
Josep Cladellas
Universitat Oberta de Catalunya
May I recomended a book???
It's a working-cooperation Université de la Sorbonne ( Paris IV) and Universidad de Almeria ?? Perhaps you'll find in it some answers.
in my opinion is one of the bests books about the mediterranean culture coming from the -4000 years BC and making some projections in the future.
Sincerely yours.
2 Recommendations
29th Dec, 2018
Ardian Muhaj
Centre of Albanological Studies
Thanks very much Josep. This is really a very useful book.
2nd Jan, 2019
Nino Ghambashidze
V. Sarajishvili Tbilisi State Conservatoire; The Centre for History, Etnology, Religion Study and Propaganda; Georgian Asossiation of the Anamitical Psychology
El-Sayed El-Aswad and Adrian, I agree with you. Good fortune in your very interesting research Adrian!
2 Recommendations
2nd Jan, 2019
Ardian Muhaj
Centre of Albanological Studies
Thanks very much Nino. The same from here.
1 Recommendation
2nd Jan, 2019
El-Sayed El-Aswad
Anthropologist
We can add that the Mediterranean area is one of the most important cradles of several civilizations existing throughout different periods of time. The issue here is that lots of archeological sites have been discovered confirming a unique continuation of the past and present .
2 Recommendations
2nd Jan, 2019
Ardian Muhaj
Centre of Albanological Studies
Exactly this is one the most important values that mark the Mediterranean identity. The civilizational heritage blended into a unique form from the cultural confluence of three main continents.
2 Recommendations
3rd Jan, 2019
Josep Cladellas
Universitat Oberta de Catalunya
I belive I understand your are interested by the civiliizations on the Mediterranean area and serching its identity now in the present. Its that the aim?? If it is, there is not to much to say wich is not already said. The present on the mediterranen identity is, for not ging too far, that in the Barcelona and Valecia harbours the chinesse goubernement is the main accionist. The chinese goubernement on the other side of the Medterranean , Egypt is going to buid a new El Cairo, a completely new city built from nothing now place. Without talking other agreements with many countries next to our see. China and also India are the next civilitaton in spite of Europe and. USA
1 Recommendation
3rd Jan, 2019
Ardian Muhaj
Centre of Albanological Studies
Exactly this is the aim. And what you describe is what has been happening always. The Mediterranean was not only a medi-terranean (in the middle of the earth), but also a Finisterre, or at the very end of the world. Here have ended the great migratory movements throughout history, also.
2 Recommendations
3rd Jan, 2019
Josep Cladellas
Universitat Oberta de Catalunya
You are right. let's try to find a definition.
Mediterranian greek, hebrew, roman and arabian identity in the past; eirini, shalom, pax and salam identity in the future.
That's how I want to define the mediterranean Identity¡¡¡
Is yours if you like it.
2 Recommendations
3rd Jan, 2019
Ardian Muhaj
Centre of Albanological Studies
It is a great definition, indeed. Very condensed and very beautiful definition. I think it is also realistic.
3rd Jan, 2019
Josep Cladellas
Universitat Oberta de Catalunya
As I said. It's all yours if you want to use it. It Would be a pleasure for me.
From Barcelona, Mediterranean Sea.
1 Recommendation
3rd Jan, 2019
Ardian Muhaj
Centre of Albanological Studies
Thanks very much. I appreciate your contribution to the topic.
Not far from Barcelona, too.
11th Apr, 2019
Ardian Muhaj
Centre of Albanological Studies
I would like to bring to the attention also that the Roman Empire was basically limited to the Mediterranean space.
1 Recommendation
11th Apr, 2019
Zin Eddine Dadach
Higher Colleges of Technology
The Mediteranean cuisine is the healthiest. People use a lot of olive oil; vegetables and fish are in many dishes.
1 Recommendation
11th Apr, 2019
João Ricardo Rebuge
University of Porto
Ardian Muhaj The Mediterranean was a connexion not a border! The Roman Empire extended to Africa and Asia, from the Northern Europe!
1 Recommendation
11th Apr, 2019
Ardian Muhaj
Centre of Albanological Studies
Exactly João Ricardo Rebuge. The Roman Empire and the Mediterranean space during this period were a connection that had a limit. I think that for any political power in history this limit would have had been very spacious and generous.
1 Recommendation
11th Apr, 2019
El-Sayed El-Aswad
Anthropologist
I think that the Mediterranean still serves as a vital connection between north (Europe) and south (more than 10 Middle East countries) as well as between east (Levant & Turkey) and west (Morocco).
1 Recommendation
11th Apr, 2019
Ardian Muhaj
Centre of Albanological Studies
It is true Prof. El-Aswad. It always was and I think will be like that. What I pointed out is that the Romans had as their political and civilizational horizon this space. They took over all the shores of the Mediterranean, and centered they're activity around the Mediterranean.
2 Recommendations
13th Apr, 2019
Abdullah Sencer Gözübenli
Åbo Akademi University
As a Eastern Mediterranean person, I can say that common identity of Mediterranean people related to their proximity to the Mediterranean Sea, suggesting the presence of bonds that transcend political boundaries. Weeks ago I was in Tunisia and last week in Albania and I witnessed that the Mediterranean essence, shaped by the Mediterranean Sea, is represented in residents’ narratives by mild climate, physical traits of the inhabitants (e.g., hair or skin color), slow and relaxed lifestyle, warmth, bright colors, symbols such as the kitchen or the dinner table, and crops like olive trees and vineyards. The common sea reduces the differences of superordinate identities around the sea. Raki and Ouzo with ice unite Greeks and Turks, Kunafa unites Arabs and Israelis. Olive oil unites all people in the Mediterranean Basin.
3 Recommendations
25th Jan, 2021
Andreas Sicklinger
University of Bologna
Hello, I am very interested in this topic, my but background is Product Design. I also believe that there is a lot in common, still unexplored in parts. I launched these days a call for paper:
(if link does not open, just paste it in your browser). Perhaps it might be interesting for the one or other to propose a research.
1 Recommendation
5th Jun, 2021
Ardian Muhaj
Centre of Albanological Studies
Thanks Andreas for the suggestion.

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