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The Center

The historiography of the Mediterranean has been the subject of heated academic debate since the early twentieth century, a debate which is still lively and fruitful. At HCMH we aim to join this debate and redefine the University of Haifa as a distinct node of innovative research and advanced teaching on the network of Mediterranean historical discourse.

The HCMH, was officially founded in 29th November 2016 by staff members of the departments of General History and Maritime Civilizations. It has won the generous funding and support of Yad Hanadiv. HCMH aims to involve a broad array of scholars from across the humanities and other faculties, while emphasizing the pre-modern Mediterranean (roughly antiquity to 1800). Since its early days, the University of Haifa has developed a rich tradition of Mediterranean scholarship: history and archaeology, imperialism, crusading, pilgrimage, diasporas, and trade, are some of the disciplines and topics that attracted the attention of Haifa researchers. However, despite this substantial body of work, no successful attempt has been made to combine efforts and collaborate meaningfully. HCMH, therefore, aims to enhance and re-focus the existing, rich Mediterranean tradition in Haifa.

HCMH blends well with the Faculty of the Humanities’ vision of uniting researchers from different departmental frameworks in order to enable cooperation and high-level multidisciplinary research. The Center is meant to work closely with the School of History, for the mutual benefit of both frameworks. HCMH also complements the University of Haifa’s vision of national leadership in scientific and ecological research of the Mediterranean Sea.

To achieve these goals, HCMH recruits new researchers, at different levels, who share our vision and are eager to combine focused studies with a generalist Mediterranean perspective. Throughout its first phase of activity (7 years) the Center will open 3 tenure-track positions, about 7 post-doctoral fellowships, and about 8 doctoral scholarships. Moreover, we actively promote national and international collaborations with leading institutions in the field. We aim to offer relevant Haifa scholars – and Israeli scholars at large – the opportunity of establishing world-wide connections with other individuals and groups which make the Mediterranean their central research frame.

Here are some of our research guidelines:

  1. Geographically, we intend to give precedence to projects which deal with the part played by the Levant area within the larger Mediterranean routine. In particular HCMH would like to explore the Levant and its unique contacts with Asia and Africa, in the pre-Islamic and Islamic eras.
  2. Thematically, we plan to encourage cross-disciplinary discussion which focuses on aspects of environmental history and human impact on nature in the Mediterranean region. The University of Haifa already made a breakthrough in developing significant facilities and programs which focus on the natural aspects of the Mediterranean Sea. The HCMH aims to harness these resources in order to promote the topic of environmental history in Israel, to a large degree currently nonexistent.
  3. Methodologically, we wish to emphasize research questions and approaches which seriously engage with material evidence and its cultural meaning. The Center will encourage studies which would bring together text and object in innovative ways.

Some of our planned projects and activities (see the Academic Activity and News and Events website sections for more details):

  1. Research seminar for Haifa affiliates: hosting local and guest speakers. The seminar will at times be held in conjunction with the Mediterranean Forum (see below).
  2. Guest speakers (2-3 p.a.) will be invited to the seminar, either for a single lecture or as part of a short-term stay in Haifa.
  3. Guest scholars are invited to apply for short-term stays of between one and three months. Accepted guests will be expected to participate fully in HCMH activities.
  4. Members will have the opportunity to arrange summer schools or crash courses by specialists (e.g. language, palaeography, numismatics). These courses will be open to interested students and faculty members, campus- (and, perhaps, nation- wide).
  5. Similarly, HCMH will offer research excursions in Israel and abroad devoted to themes studied by members and arranged by them.
  6. HCMH will offer post-doctoral positions to promising young scholars worldwide whose research resonates with particular themes studied at the Center. These fellowships (1-2 p.a.) will offer generous financial support, on a par with leading research institutions in Israel. Post-doctoral researchers will be assigned a local mentor and will hopefully join our international work-groups (see below).
  7. Doctoral students worldwide are able to apply to one of the existing PhD programs at the University and enjoy a stipend from HCMH. Alternatively, excellent students enrolled in leading institutions abroad will be able to apply to spend a year in Haifa for research and training purposes.
  8. HCMH will hold one or two large international conferences during its first phase.
  9. The Center is boosting the library’s book acquisition budget in areas relating to the Mediterranean, as well as investing in more expensive items such as relevant journals and databases. We will poll our members regarding specific unanswered needs they may have.
  10. HCMH offers its members modest support toward covering publication costs of worthy monographs.
  11. HCMH develops modest public outreach plans, especially via museums in Haifa.
  12. Mediterranean Forum
  13. HCMH supports doctoral students from all Israeli research institutions by offering small stipends for travel to conferences and short research trips.
  14. HCMH funds work-groups of selected scholars to study together a historical problem or theme for a long period of time. The HCMH module is based on work-groups consisting of up to 8 scholars, two of whom at least will be from Haifa. Each group will explore a joint problem during two years (with an option for extension). The groups will meet twice each year, in Haifa and elsewhere, for intense 3-4 day sessions. During these sessions members will present their own work-in-progress and share and discuss research dilemmas. HCMH will require each group to leave a permanent outcome, most commonly in the form of a scholarly publication, either in collected volumes or journal special issues.
  15. HCMH strives to develop institutional collaboration. We seek Centers, programs and other initiatives, within the Mediterranean basin and outside it, with which formal or semi-formal ties could be established.

We are always glad to hear about your ideas and learn of your initiatives. Do get in touch!

The Haifa Center for Mediterranean History