Literature Program

Friday, December 2, 2011 at 4:00 p.m.


UB Humanities Institute presents

Sasha Pack

Scholars at Hallwalls: "Europe's Deepest Border: The Making of the Modern Strait of Gibraltar"

Sasha Pack
Associate Professor
Department of History

This study examines the history of the Strait of Gibraltar since roughly 1860. Border security may have become a defining global anxiety of our time, but the concept has long bedeviled the range of kingdoms, empires, alliances, and federations operating in this fluid Euro-African space. By the latter nineteenth century, the Strait's strategic position bridging continents and seas invited neo-imperial conquest and its attendant rules and technologies, all of which overlay a region that had for five centuries formed the approximate boundary between the Christian and Muslim worlds. As a result, the region became extraordinarily diverse, not only in ethnic and religious terms, but also in the types of polities and borders to be found there. Circulation and cross-border traffic, long major features of the region, became increasingly entangled in imperial and Great Power struggles. From examining police reports, diplomatic cables, and other administrative documents, along with journalistic and literary accounts, a picture emerges of how local patterns of mobility across borders conditioned the actions of and relations among distance centers of sovereign power. Examining this regional dynamic suggests new interpretive directions for the international history of Western Europe and North Africa from the late nineteenth century through the twentieth.