CORDIS - EU research results

'Machinery Rooms' of the Mediterranean, 1800-present: Images and Visual Archives of Movement and Acceleration

Project description

"Machinery rooms" of the Mediterranean after 1800: a visual history

The ERC-funded MEDMACH project focuses on the Mediterranean after 1800, looking at infrastructures and machineries of acceleration: airports, train stations, motorway bridges, industrial ports, engine-driven ships. Such sites are often overlooked in historiography. The Mediterranean after 1800 typically appears either in decline or romanticised. The "machinery room" of modernity has never been at the centre of attention. These sites of movement are associated with processes of migration, colonisation and decolonisation as well as environmental and economic crises. MEDMACH will seize the potential of images and image archives to advance knowledge about travel, transit, migration, environment and cultural encounter to understand histories around the Mediterranean in a global and postcolonial dimension.


The aim of MEDMACH is to write a new history of the Mediterranean after 1800 through images of movement: infrastructures and machineries of acceleration such as airports, train stations, motorway bridges, industrial ports, and engine-driven ships. These sites are often overlooked in overarching narratives of the region. The Mediterranean after 1800 typically appears either in decline or romanticized, therefore this ‘machinery room’ of modernity has never been at the center of attention.

However, these sites of movement are connected to all the aspects which make the Mediterranean an emotive, politically relevant place today: migration, colonization and decolonization, the relation between Europe and the Islamic world, environmental and economic crisis. Conceptualizing the modern and contemporary Mediterranean through its ‘machinery rooms’ of movement will slice through the divisions of fragmented national histories, and provide a basis for the differentiated, yet connective history that is needed to face those challenges.

This history will be based on images and image archives: In the modern period after 1800, images are increasingly made for distribution and circulation. They are entangled with the ambivalent modern notions of movement and acceleration. They are also ideal carriers of transnational and transregional knowledge. MEDMACH will advance epistemic knowledge about the modern and contemporary Mediterranean. Moreover, it will work with a visual approach to establish a new, systemic historical understanding which is urgently needed in current debates on travel, transit, migration, environment, and cultural encounter.

Key words: Mediterranean, visual archives, infrastructure, mobility, acceleration, migration, modernity, circulation

Host institution

Net EU contribution
€ 2 000 000,00
40225 Dusseldorf

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Nordrhein-Westfalen Düsseldorf Düsseldorf, Kreisfreie Stadt
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Total cost
€ 2 000 000,00

Beneficiaries (1)