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A comparison of the development of two Mediterranean sub-regions

An EU-funded project analysed the modernisation of two European Mediterranean sub-regional areas during the 19th and 20th centuries.
A comparison of the development of two Mediterranean sub-regions
More specifically, the cities of Valencia in Spain and Catania, on the island of Sicily in Italy, were compared through a multi-thematic approach and by assuming an urban and territorial focus, from a local to a global scale. The CTA-VLC COMPARISON (Catania and Valencia's way to modernity. A multidisciplinary comparison between two port cities within Mediterranean Europe (1850-1915)) project examined the subject across three different topics.

First, it set out to find the roots of modernisation, starting from the conquest of hinterlands to the access to global markets, looking at the economies, infrastructure, and territorial and urban hierarchies. Both Catania and Valencia have had a non-linear relationship with their waterfront, having connected with their respective ports and vast hinterlands during the second half of the 19th century.

Through this analysis, it was possible to note the differences of the two cities on the path to modernisation. While Valencia had good connections with other major cities, Catania was more isolated. Yet, in both cases, there was a dynamic and rich agriculture, promoting a sort of Mediterranean industrialisation.

Another important project part concerned the study of local elites, such as entrepreneurs and politicians, and capitals between centres and periphery in order to understand the mechanisms responsible for urban growth. The team found that cities, politics, economy and entrepreneurship merged, while prominent figures concerned with capitalism, the management of urban development and maritime entrepreneurial activities appeared in both cities. However, differences could also be observed, for example shipping companies were created in Valencia but not in Catania.

The last project question examined the modernisation process in these cities, looking especially for modernity and progress. Different concepts of progress flourished in both cities between the 1880s and the 1910s, making them two of the most important literary centres in their respective countries. Moreover, both cities hosted important regional and agricultural expositions, which demonstrated their opening to the world.

The project had as a priority to spread this research from the strictly academic domain and potentially bring closer the two cities, particularly a cooperation between the two historical schools. Cooperation between the cities' ports could also be established, given their importance in research. In the long term, this collaboration could be used for other Euro-Mediterranean cities. The project also confirmed the north-south divide that exists in Europe.

Related information


Mediterranean, modernisation, Valencia, Catania, CTA-VLC COMPARISON, port cities
Record Number: 188642 / Last updated on: 2016-10-11
Domain: Industrial Technologies
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