The British presence in the Mediterranean: memory footprints and present-day challenges.
La présence britannique en Méditerranée : traces mémorielles, défis actuels
Valérie André and Matthew Graves (OREMA – LERMA, Aix-Marseille Université)
The resetting of the United Kingdom’s relations with Europe in the aftermath of the June 2016 referendum is a time to reassess Britain’s place on the southern seaboard of the continent, in the Mediterranean world past and present, viewed through the lens of critical geopolitics and geographies of memory. Taking its cue from Braudel’s invitation to “see the Mediterranean as the window onto an alternative view of history” (1986, p.14), our research brief is to examine the vestiges of British cultural, diplomatic and strategic engagement in the region and assess their continuing (or diminishing) relevance in the 21st century in the context of the post-Cold War power shift to the East, the conflicts in the Near and Middle East, the Brexit process and the foreign policy ambitions of “Global Britain”. We shall be asking what are the geopolitical perspectives for the post-Brexit British presence in the region and what are the foreseeable impacts on those countries within its traditional sphere of influence? Does Brexit herald a ‘West of Suez’ moment, a British retreat from the liquid continent on Europe’s southern borders, or a re-engagement on new terms?