Why, and how, to Talk about the Mediterranean Today - From many viewpoints, over a wide range of disciplines, the "Mediterranean
question" is now coming back to the centre of attention. In this area of analysis - by no means solely geographical - the past is going through permanent interaction with the present, where all the tensions accumulated over the last two centuries and all the uncertainties of the future seem to converge. The events of the last twenty years are calling for the development of new interpretative frameworks, going beyond the traditional approaches of the social sciences: geo-strategic, historical and anthropological. On comparative reconsideration of the approaches, the Braudelian lesson - not always in peaceful coexistence with the recent interpretations of ethnologists and anthropologists - leaves us in no doubt about its "long run" validity, suggesting we give our contemporary representation of the Mediterranean as extensive spatial and temporal dimensions as possible. There is no doubt that, with its conflicts, its internal contradictions and perennial oscillation between unity and fragmentation, the Mediterranean is once again one of the richest empirical laboratories of our contemporary world.