In April 2022, the Research Institute for Languages and Cultures of Asia and Africa (ILCAA) participated in a six-year research project entitled “Global Mediterranean,” funded by Japan’s National Institutes for the Humanities (NIHU). Our partner institutions include the National Museum of Ethnology (MINPAKU), the Asian Cultures Research Institute at Toyo University, and the Faculty of Social Studies at Doshisha University.
The project aims to formulate new approaches to area studies by examining the global flow of people, goods, and knowledge through the Mediterranean Sea. By taking an interdisciplinary and transregional approach, it attempts to challenge the existing framework of area studies which divides countries surrounding the Mediterranean Sea into “Europe” in the north and “the Middle East and North Africa” in the south. Rather than taking such a geographical framework as granted, this project explores the Mediterranean as a discursive space that represents this region as a unique civilization with shared values and cultures. For, notwithstanding the fact that it is an inland sea, the Mediterranean Sea is connected to the Americas beyond the Atlantic Ocean if one sails westward and to East Africa and the Indian Ocean from the Red Sea via the Suez Canal to the southeast; the Silk Road would further bring us to Central Asia.
Through the analysis of written texts, visual arts, and various types of performance, our research group at ILCAA seeks to investigate the global cultural flows among various civilizations. It attempts to explore how Mediterranean cultures were transformed and spread among Asian and African regions and how Asian and African cultures were assimilated into the Mediterranean cultures.