Introduction: Networks and History

Irad Malkin

in A Small Greek World

Published in print November 2011 | ISBN: 9780199734818
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199918553 | DOI:

Series: Greeks Overseas

Introduction: Networks and History

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This chapter provides the background to applying “network” as a heuristic concept to historical interpretation. Greek colonization dotted the coasts of the Mediterranean and the Black Sea with distant settlements that served as network nodes; with greater distance came fewer degrees of separation and the overall connectivity that, in terms of “small worlds,” allowed for Greek commonalities to disseminate and for Greek civilization to appear as a self-emergent phenomenon in a complex system. Physical divergence brought about cultural convergence. The chapter discusses the universality of network approaches; its contemporary implications; its place in the spatial turn, combining historical with geographical notions; Mediterranean historiography (Braudel, Goitein, Horden, and Purcell); The reversal of our cognitive maps (denying the role of centers vs. backwaters and observing “Greece” via a wide-angle lens); the role of individual “connectors”; the emergence of regional identities; middle grounds and colonial clusters; network and Mediterranean city-state culture (with Phoenicians and Etruscans); the role of colonization; and the formation of the Greek convergence.

Keywords: network; degrees of separation; middle grounds; spatial turn; cognitive maps; Greek colonization; small worlds; regional identities; connectors; Greek civilization

Chapter.  26663 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Classical History

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