The objective of the international conference Confronting identities: permeability and hybridity relationships among soldiers, prisoners and converts in the Mare Nostrum to be held in Palermo is to involve a group of scholars from different countries (European and non-European) in a comparative discussion that has in recent years given rise to innovative research and to the construction of new paradigms in the field of historiography about the early modern Mediterranean.
The “Mediterranean is a culturally saturated space”. The plurality of religions and legal-regulatory systems coexisting in this space has in fact generated complex configurations that escape unilateral considerations and question the differentiation between distinct “cultural universes”. On the contrary, from multiple perspectives, even in times of strong conflicts, the changing ways and the actors of intercultural exchange, the interactions, the connections, the areas of contact between the societies of Western Europe and the Islamized ones are highlighted.
In particular, an already impressive bibliography has focused on the subject of forced migration and mobility. Mobility in the Mediterranean has a centuries-old military, mercantile and religious history. Invasions, crusades and jihad, expulsions, trade have resulted in voluntary or forced mobility from northern Africa and the Near East to Europe and vice versa. The captive, the slave, the prisoner, the renegade, the merchant are somehow the emblem. The slave in particular can be redeemed and this produces economic-financial mechanisms, religious discourses, dependent on political conditioning, causes diplomatic disputes and requires legal spaces and legal institutions.
Furthermore, the situation of captivity, like other occasions, leads to a multiplication of strategies of dissimulation and religious mutations, of identity negotiation, which report to the fragility, fluidity, relativity of identities, redefined and renegotiated in particular contexts. The focus intertwines many aspects and therefore requires a multidisciplinary perspective that COST is able to offer. For this reason, a moment of collective reflection can be used to identify ways to improve the quality of future research.