Dear Colleagues,

I very much enjoyed seeing old friends, making new ones, and hearing many exciting papers in Malta.  I’m looking forward our next meeting in Sorrento.

In the meantime, do have a look at the Spring 2017 issue of Mediterranean Studies, which arrived just after the conference.  As the editor of this special issue, I was very pleased to invite scholars from four different countries to consider the problem of non-state agency in Mediterranean politics.  Non-state actors can range from larger supranational organizations like the United Nations or the Catholic Church down to the smallest NGOs working hard to find homes for the refugees arriving in southern Europe on a daily basis.  

The concept of non-state political agency, as I note in the Introduction, comes from current international relations theory.  Scholars have usually talked about it in terms of the modern nation-state.  But as the contributors and I argue, the Mediterranean has always been a place where private individuals, companies, and non-governmental associations helped to forge relations between city-states, empires, republics, principalities, and later nations.  In an opening essay on harbor construction in the ancient Mediterranean, Gil Gambash argues that multiple parties often came together to finance and organize the work, since harbors served both the military interests of kings and emperors and the non-state interests of merchants.  Crusades historian Michael Lower explores the role of Christian mercenaries serving North African rulers during the Middle Ages.  Diego Pirillo traces the influence of Italian refugees and dissenters on Venetian relations with the Protestant North during the Renaissance.  North Africanist Etty Terem introduces readers to Muhammad al-Ḥajwi, an individual who once served as a diplomat and functionary of the Moroccan state, but then fell from favor and began a second career as a non-state advocate of political reform.  Finally, John Head, Kate Marples, and Jon Simpson propose the creation of a transnational regulatory commission to meet the contemporary Mediterranean region’s seemingly insurmountable environmental challenges.  The contributors and I are very excited about this special issue, and we hope our members enjoy reading it as much as we did developing and writing it. 


John Watkins
MSA Program Chair

  Mediterranean Studies Association
PO Box 79351 N. Dartmouth, MA 02747 USA