Anonymous, 1569

We asked young people from eight cities on the Mediterranean shore – Beirut, Alexandria, Tangiers, Barcelona, Marseilles, Naples, Athens and Istanbul – if this four centuries old phrase still holds true.
We have invited them to define their relationship with their urban landscape, thinking about it as a social environment where the relationship between citizen and governing body comes to life. Comparing their statement, we have tried to understand the obstacles and problems these young people encounter in their journey towards personal fulfilment.
Rather than forming a neat jigsaw puzzle, the interviewees’ answers resemble the Domino, the Chinese game of similarities and differences built as a method of divination, of prediction, of a future that, now more than ever, is uncertain and engaging at the same time. The Mediterranean is thus a set of dominoes: some of its tiles are matching and equal in value, others are incompatible.

MEDPEOPLE 2011 The ancient Mare Nostrum has come to resemble – in recent months of social unrest and revolution – an ebullient magma that is struggling to strike a balance between unifying and dividing facets.
To the south, freedom is pushing for change, supported by thousands of young people who have suffered decades of static dictatorships. To the north, the economic crisis is turning Europe even more inward-looking, and all the while a new wave of immigration towards Europe can be anticipated in young North Africans’ aspirations for a promising future. To the east an awakening of the ghost of political unrest threatens the outbreak of a new war.
A particular aspect emerged in each metropolis, either a feature or a problem that stands out and profoundly influences the way these young people experience or sometimes suffer their city’s landscape. These aspects are common in all the cities examined. This is where the dominoes match up.
But the dominoes are incompatible when one compares the historic, social and economic circumstances of each city. Peace, freedom and rights are acquired values in the north of this area whereas in the south they are concepts yet to be attained. Interestingly, the two areas show the same need for the creation of new jobs and the need to be independent citizens.
A predominant feature that emerged from this project is the divide between the rich north and the poor south. The boundaries of these areas lie in the middle of the Mediterranean sea, but geographical and social boundaries are constantly fluctuating, even inside each urban landscape, and pose the challenge of emigration and integration respectively.
MEDPEOPLE’s ultimate aims are both to emphasize how certain problems which arise in these cities – and thus everywhere in the Mediterranean basin– are the same throughout the whole region, and also to highlight how national policies and local authorities are not committed to positively answering the demands of their young population.

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This project was realized on behalf of Monaco Méditerranée Foundation between august 2010 and march 2011.
Published on IoDonna, Italy – July 2011 / MMF Book Cover