‘Rewriting the Sea from the Desert Shore: Equine and Equestrian Perspectives on a New Maritime History’

Landry, Donna E. (2009) ‘Rewriting the Sea from the Desert Shore: Equine and Equestrian Perspectives on a New Maritime History’. In: Fusaro, Maria and Heywood, Colin and Omri, Mohamed-Salah, eds. Trade and Cultural Exchange in the Early Modern Mediterranean: Braudel’s Maritime Legacy. International Library of Historical Studies . I. B. Tauris, London. ISBN 9781848851634. (The full text of this publication is not currently available from this repository. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided)

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This essay proposes bringing together what we might call Desert Studies with the Sea Studies at the heart of traditional maritime history research. Sea and desert bear to each other relations of comparability as well as adjacency or contingency. Both are geopolitically overwritten, strategically important spaces that may at first sight appear empty to those unfamiliar with their intricate ecosystems. Both are hostile environments for humans to inhabit, requiring specific kinds of knowledge for survival. Both are crisscrossed by trade routes, rendering their negotiation strategically valuable. Aesthetically, both sea and desert provoke experiences of the sublime and have inspired rich traditions of writing, painting, music, cinema, and other media. Both are ‘horizontal’ rather than ‘vertical’ spaces, encouraging forms of sociality that might be understood as less hierarchical and more egalitarian than those bred by other localities. Grasping the desert as a space comparable with the sea in the early modern period requires understanding not only the mechanisms of trade, such as the social and economic organisation of caravans, and camel, donkey, and horse power, but also the immense symbolic importance of horses and horse culture within the desert regions of North Africa and the Middle East. One of the prime commodities of the Mediterranean trade-routes linking Europe, Africa, and Asia was the Eastern blood horse. Desert studies, although not limited to a focus on the equine and equestrian, would be seriously incapacitated without such a focus. Sea Studies as a truly interdisciplinary enterprise has much to gain from attending to the sandy shores where land meets sea, enabling maritime research to be networked explicitly with its hinterlands.

Item Type: Book section
Subjects: P Language and Literature
Divisions: Faculties > Humanities > School of English
Depositing User: Donna Landry
Date Deposited: 29 Jun 2011 10:40
Last Modified: 28 May 2014 11:09
Resource URI: https://kar.kent.ac.uk/id/eprint/20507 (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
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