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Modernity in “Antique Lands”

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Perspectives from the Western Mediterranean

image of Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient

The critiques of modernity advanced since at least the 1980s have seldom focused on North Africa/the Maghrib, where Europe and non-Europe impinge so closely on each other. Nor have they often allowed us to recover an historical account of the making of modernity as a global condition, beyond the largely dichotomous or bifurcating categories introduced by modern relations of power and unequal exchange themselves. As an introduction to this collection of articles, this essay sketches what I call a “tectonic” approach to modernity as an historical process, with the aim of recapturing the dynamics by which, between the late eighteenth century and the mid-nineteenth, differently located people and places came to occupy divergent positions both in socioeconomic and political structures and in narratives of “modern” history.

Affiliations: 1: Oxford University


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