Modernity and the Sea
This chapter examines the emergence of the Red Sea as an operative concept at the center of the discursive formation of modernity, with particular emphasis on its surprisingly important place in the writings of major figures of modern thought. It shows that the idea of the sea forming a unitary and coherent space can be traced back to the early nineteenth century and the foundations of the modern disciplines of history, geography, botany, and most especially oceanography. It also considers the discursive parameters that permit affirmations of Mediterranean unity in particular, and the coherence of maritime basins in general, to be “persuasive as statements of fact.” Finally, it explores how the sea found pride of place in the works of Adam Smith, who laid the foundations for the theory of free trade.
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