An exposition of the book’s object and mode of inquiry by arguing that the Mediterranean offers us a particularly fruitful case for examining transnationalism, because it has often appeared as the uncomfortable alternative to a Eurocentric, modern-mired view of the world. The chapter introduces the current state of academic affairs in Mediterraneanist studies, specifically the prevailing historiographical view of a contradistinction between the Mediterranean and modernity. After an outline of the present and recent past of Mazara and the central Mediterranean, I argue that the rejection of both Mediterranean modernity and a modern Mediterranean has quarantined the ethnography of the sea, discouraging any comparison to the ancient, medieval, or early modern Mediterraneans. I then trace the vicissitudes of the concept of segmentation along its northbound route across the Mediterranean. The following sections discuss the book’s main analytical tools – the material and pragmatic aspects of scaling devices, the distinction between project and process, and the way to combine these in an historical anthropology of region formation. Finally, I exemplify the kind of analysis that segmentation facilitates on a transnational scale, and outline the course of the following chapters.
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