Minority Politics in the Mediterranean World

In his article, Minority Politics in the Mediterranean World, Paul Silverstein writes of the difficulty facing the ideal of minority politics within the Mediterranean culture. He explains this overall struggle to find an equilibrium between single and plural views within legal rhetoric used within Morocco. The government attempts to be all inclusive, however, still names itself a Muslim state with Arabic as its official language and Islam as the official religion of the state. He states that the Mediterranean is “particularly ‘good to think’ as a frontier zone where the long historic circulation of people, goods , and cultural forms have layered a multiplicity of interpenetrating social formations and proliferated (sometimes violent) encounters across various terrains of difference.” This view of his is the basis for his argument against minority politics being used in Morocco. He explains that this rich historic relevance and significant cultural background throughout the Mediterranean, more specifically Morocco, can’t be seen as “minority politics” as all those within Morocco share this web of history. He explains that so many different factors play into the historic background of Morocco that there is so many different minorities that minority politics can no longer be used to explain the exclusion of some cultures from the nations official language or religion. Silverstein uses this fact as a way to show that the current Moroccan constitution as a better form of the previous versions but still not complete inclusive to all cultures within Morocco. His main concern with the new constitution is that, though it allows other religions and languages to be practiced, it is “not backed up by actual institutions of financial investments which would guarantee political rights, socioeconomic equity and the rule of law- they call for social justice and an end to the corruption and disdain they face on a daily basis from government workers and security forces – [this] is not a minority politics as such, but, ultimately, a simply human politics.” This means that, while the written constitutions states these practices are acceptable, it does not include any form of protection for these practices and no way for these minority groups to overcome the same political oppression that they have been facing. The text in the constitution may read as a piece encouraging multiculturalism, however, it still limits the minority groups by leaving out any political or economic protections for the minorities.

This difficult piece first reminded me of our midterm debate over the reason the Mediterranean was seen as a whole. The historic and cultural similarities in the groups living within the Mediterranean have been a standing factor in much of the development in legislation. However, I was surprised to see that somewhere that so openly appealed to multiculturalism still saw a single language and a single religion as more dominant and significant than others. I was even more astonished when Silverstein pointed out that this promise of inclusion was simply a hallow promise made for political improvement. Can we see examples of this in our society? Is the United States so new when compared to countries around the Mediterranean to see the same type of multiculturalism or is it even more evident here as we are a nation of different backgrounds?












Slow Food

In her article, Alison Leitch describes the ever present American fast foods that have made their way to Italy. She notes foods such as mcdonalds being seen throughout the city with the notable absence of what she calls “slow foods” or foods more likely served for a home dinner ir resturant than a fast food place. As she was talking about this, I couldn’t help but to reflect on our towns around here and how so few of them are actual locally based restaurants. Almost all of the  food offered in towns now consists of fast foods. I honestly can’t remember the last time I had a sit down meal with my family. It also is hard to tell just how many cultural traditions will be lost to fast foods. Is there really any way to stop this spread?

“Like an Extra Virgin

I think this article shows yet another example of the reoccurring question as to whether the Mediterranean is a single form or many small individual areas that share commonalities. Who would have thought that a type of food could be considered a viable source for the answer to this continuous question. This article outlines the historical and cultural importance of olive oil to the Mediterranean. These histories go back through ancient mythology where the people of Athens chose Athena’s gift, the olive tree, over a salt sea as it was more practical and could provide more for the people. This statement has been held true and the olive tree is now considered one of the most notable images of the Mediterranean. Olive oil has been and continues to be one of the main exports of the Mediterranean as it has many uses and because many people now prefer a “Mediterranean Diet”, consisting of olive oil, fruits, vegetables, sea food, and some wine. In recent years, heart disease an other medical issues have been cured or rather less common in those that eat a Mediterranean diet. Olive oil is believed to be a good source of fat, a “sexy fat” as Meneley described in the article. I was familiar with the Mediterranean diet in a broad sense but I still did not view any type of oil to be healthy. Furthermore, I had no idea why extra virgin olive oil was named as such. I understood that it had to be something about the purity of the product but never really understood why they would chose to name a food product after a virgin. However, I understand the use of the name given is much more fitting and is hard earned as only live oil with under 0.80 percent acidity level receive such a name. Olive oil can continue earning addition names based on purity standards, Meneley told of many different tiers of purity or virginity of olive oil, even goes as far as comparing it to a couple who, once engaged, had to stop sleeping together so the woman would be a virgin on their wedding. Overall, this article really emphasized the importance of olive oil to the Mediterranean lifestyle, culture and history.


Can you think of any other food that can evoke this kind of history or cultural importance to other counties or groups?