CFP - "Muslim Maritime Violence in the Pre-Modern Mediterranean (650-1650)" (MESA, Montreal, 2-5 November 2023)

Travis Bruce Discussion

“Muslim Maritime Violence in the Pre-Modern Mediterranean (650-1650)”

The Mediterranean Seminar invites paper proposals for a panel to be proposed for the 2023 MESA Annual Meeting to be held on November 2-5 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

Western scholars have often cast pre-Modern Muslim maritime violence as parasitic, bleeding an otherwise robust Mediterranean economy of profits and resources. In such narratives and in contemporary Latin and Greek texts, this predatory warfare becomes a prominent part of the clash between Christendom and dar al-Islām. When those same scholars and texts use the term “piracy” for that violence, it becomes immoral and illegitimate, while still participating in dichotomous interreligious conflict. Contemporary normative Islamic texts draw seemingly clear lines between licit maritime violence and piracy within texts concerning jihād (i.e. legal warfare against non-Muslims). Modern scholars then project those discourses onto the same past that produced but also eluded such clear distinctions. For the most part, such boundaries interested more those who produced them rather than those whom they concerned the most. In fact, such binary criteria, labels, and boundaries impede our understanding of maritime violence, of the individuals involved, how it functioned, and the role it played.

Paper proposals are sought that explore pre-Modern Muslim maritime violence as a process both within and outside of these normative and dichotomous categories. Please note that presenters must be MESA members when we submit the panel proposal.  

Papers from any historical or humanities perspective are welcome, including for example, historical, literary, cultural, art, philosophy, and religious studies. Comparative studies or papers that propose novel methodologies or approaches are especially welcome. The Mediterranean World here is broadly construed and this “Pre-Modern” runs from approximately 500—1650 CE.

Junior scholars, contingent faculty, graduate students and scholars from under-represented communities or regions are particularly encouraged to apply.

Please submit proposals via this form:

Please direct questions to the organizer, Travis Bruce (

The sponsors regret they cannot provide financial support for presenters.

Deadline: February 12, 2023.