North Africa, Islam and the Mediterranean World
From the Almoravids to the Algerian War
Edited by Julia Clancy-Smith
Routledge – 2001 – 212 pages
Long regarded as the preserve of French scholars and Francophone audiences due to its significance to France's colonial empire, North Africa is increasingly recognized for its own singular importance as a crossover region. Situated where Islamic, Mediterranean, African, and European histories intersect, the Maghrib has long acted as a cultural conduit, mediator and broker. From the medieval era, when the oasis of Sijilmasa in the Moroccan wilderness funnelled caravan loads of gold into international networks, through the 16th century when two superpowers, the Ottomans and the Spanish Hapsburgs, battled for mastery of the Mediterranean along the North African frontier, and well into the 20th century which witnessed one of Africa's cruellest wars unfold in "French Algeria", the Maghrib has retained its uniqueness as a place where worlds meet.