Mediterranean Studies at Illinois


The University of Illinois has a strong tradition of interdisciplinary inquiry into the Mediterranean as a region that crosses traditional boundaries of area studies in the U.S. In cooperation with other U of I area studies centers CSAMES and REEEC, the European Union Center has played an important role on campus in fostering this scholarship and teaching, from securing a past Jean Monnet Module grant from the European Commission for course development to awarding FLAS fellowships for languages spoken in the region but outside the traditional geographic borders of Europe (such as Arabic, Turkish, and Hebrew) and supporting speakers, conferences, and course development with Title VI funds from the U.S. Department of Education (such as the annual Turkish Studies Symposium). Studying the Mediterranean at Illinois has reminded the campus community and audiences beyond of how world “regions” are hardly static, but are formed through the movement and interactions of different peoples, and grasped through an understanding of historical legacies.

The EUC was recently awarded two grants through the Thomas Jefferson Fund and Centers of Excellence of the Embassy of France to support a research project exploring narratives of racialization in the Mediterranean and how racial tropes contribute to social marginalization in the premodern and postmodern Mediterranean. Scholars from the University of Illinois and University of Paris 8 Vincennes-Saint-Denis will collaborate on organizing two public workshops/conferences; creating online resources freely available to the public in the form of a research-based website, library guides, and lectures via Zoom; and publishing a collection of primary sources on the processes of racialization in the premodern and postmodern Mediterranean with accompanying critical essays.

Race and the Mediterranean

Other events that the EU Center has sponsored or co-sponsored with a focus on the Mediterranean include a 2019 conference on migration (co-sponsored with CSAMES) and a 2020 Interdisciplinary Reading Group on Race and the Mediterranean.

Information about activities in 2011-15 supported by the Jean Monnet Module, “Europe and the Mediterranean: Transnational Spaces and Integration," can be found hereThis project has also involved faculty from departments of languages and literatures in particular, including the U of I’s Department of French and Italian, whose Mediterranean Studies page can be found here.

Please contact EUC Director Emanuel Rota ( with any inquiries about the role that the EU Center might play in activities related to the study of the Mediterranean.