Senén Florensa

Executive President of the European Institute of the Mediterranean

The dossier of issue 23 of Quaderns de la Mediterrània, entitled “Memory and Storytelling”, is a contribution to the shared history of the Mediterranean where the protagonists are people who have suffered the transformation of their countries and present it to us through their narratives, constructing both a personal and collective memory.

We believe it is important to present personal narratives when we talk of memory in a space that has thousands of stories written from an official or professional arena, academically aligned, but also stories that play with perceptions, and even with reciprocal perceptions, as Herodotus, the father of all historians, did himself with the peoples on both sides of the sea. The perception responds to the present and memory responds to the past, and the narrative experience of identity is possible in the interrelation of these temporal dimensions. Here it is appropriate to recall the central thesis of the monumental work by the philosopher Paul Ricoeur, Time and Narrative: “time becomes human time to the extent that it is organized after the manner of a narrative; narrative, in turn, is meaningful to the extent that it portrays the features of temporal experience.”

Currently, memory is not only of interest to historians and philosophers, but also to neurologists, psychologists, anthropologists or literary theorists. In this issue of Quaderns de la Mediterrània, as since the start of the publication in 2000, we present diverse voices, not only interdisciplinary but also representative of both shores of the Mediterranean. Some of them are full of pain, as they describe events that have affected the development of the countries and culture of this sea.

In “Memory and Storytelling”, the authors are specialists in diverse fields and they evoke for us the complexity of the human soul faced with the events they have experienced themselves through history, anthropology, literature or art, or by analysing historical documents, biographies, novels and artistic visions.

We have structured this issue in four subthemes: “Lost and Recovered Identities”, with the contributions of the historian José Enrique Ruiz-Domènec, the thinker Edgar Morin, the historian Geneviève Dermenjian, the philosopher Snezana Milinkovic and the Italian writer Claudio Magris. The second theme is “Childhood Evoked”, featuring the Majorcan writer Carme Riera, the Mediterranean expert Paul Balta, the historian Benjamin Stora and the sociologist Fatma Oussedik. In third place we have “The Memory of the Artistic Gaze”, whose authors are the art historian Violant Porcel, the filmmaker Pere Alberó, the writer Patricia Almarcegui and the anthropologist Nozha Sekik. Lastly, we present “Women’s Voices in the Storm”, with the participation of the anthropologist Maria-Àngels Roque, the Lebanese writer Nadine Abou Zaki and the literature expert Rajaa Berrada. The perceptions of the writers and artists in their narratives introduce us to highly emotional visions, yet no less real for that.

The issue ends with the interview with the French anthropologist of Kabyle origin Tassadit Yacine, in an exploration of her experiences and training from her native Kabylia, and the article by the professor of Egyptian philosophy Ahmad Abdel Halim Atiya, “Philosophy and Revolution in Egypt”.

These articles make up a compete memory of the Mediterranean countries woven by multiple identities, almost always in confrontation and that share in their everyday practices many common elements.