Facts about Mahdia




[Please circulate to interested parties]





You are invited to participate in an international conference





Maison de la Culture, Mahdia, Tunisia

Friday 11 to Sunday 13 April 2025





Dear Mediterranean Music Colleagues,


This is a letter to researchers, singers and musicians, inviting proposals of papers and performances for an international musicological conference entitled





The conference will be held in the historic port town of Mahdia in Tunisia on the weekend of 11-13 April 2025.


The conference is organised by Ed Emery [Research Associate at the School of Oriental and African Studies [SOAS], London] in collaboration with the Maison de la Culture in Mahdia.


The proceedings will include a panel of the Mediterranean Music Studies Group of the ICTMD.


We believe that our conference will make an important contribution to the study of musical and cultural circulations in the Mediterranean through the centuries, and that it will also add useful perspectives for framing ongoing problematisations of the idea of 'the Mediterranean´┐Ż'.




We began by asking: 'Are there sea shanties in the Mediterranean?' That then led to a question: 'Do the countries of the Mediterranean have coherent repertoires of songs classifiable as sea songs?'. And we then asked: 'Since the Mediterranean is an area of millennial cultural exchanges, what are the interrelations and mutual influences among its sea songs? ' All of this constitutes a worthy field of exploration, analysis and discourse, and we believe that this is the first conference to address this body of material.



The conference will extend from Friday to Monday. It will include two days of formal presentations of academic papers. There will also be concerts and music sessions involving local musicians and also musicians representing the sea-song cultures of the various countries of the Mediterranean.


The papers from the conference will be published in book form, and will also be posted online on the conference website.


The official languages of the conference will be English, French and Arabic. Where possible, pre-conference translations will be prepared and circulated.


This will be an 'in-person' conference. Provision will also be made for colleagues who are unable to travel to Tunisia, for 'distance presentation' via video link.


The conference is not funded. Therefore participants will be requested to make their own travel arrangements. However we are expecting that the conference committee will able to assist with provision of local transport, accommodation and a conference dinner for speakers.


Registration for attending the conference is free, and is open to all who wish to attend.




If you wish to propose a paper, or a musical performance, or simply wish to attend the conference, please write to the conference organiser at the following address:


E-mail: [email protected]






Papers are invited that cover the countries of the Mediterranean basin.


We do not exclude the maritime peripheries of the Atlantic and the Red Sea.


We cover all periods of history, from Antiquity to the present day.


The following is a non-exclusive list of possible areas of discussion:


     * Songs associated with fishing, marine harvesting, sponge-gathering, etc; 


     * Songs of migration and emigration;


     * Songs of parting, returns, loss, deaths, and the dangers of the sea;


     * Songs of women associated with the sea;


     * Songs arising from wars and battles;


     * Songs associated with pilgrimage, including Christians, Muslims and Jews;


     * Work songs, shanties, and everyday songs of mariners, both aboard ship and on the shore;


     * Songs associated with religious cults of the sea;


     * Songs having a relation to dance.




If you wish to propose a paper, please send your ABSTRACT [max. 200 words] and a CV [max 100 words] to the organiser at the address above.


The deadline for submissions is 15 July 2024. However early submission is encouraged.


Notifications of acceptance will be sent out on 15 August 2024.


We look forward to hearing from you


Harbaoui Yassin [Director, Maison de la Culture, Mahdia]

Habib Nacib [Programme administrator, Maison de la Culture, Mahdia]

Ed Emery [SOAS, London]







THURSDAY 10 April: [for early arrivers]


AFTERNOON: Optional session at the hammam steam bath in the Medina.


EVENING: Informal music session with local musicians, at the Fishermen's Cafe inside the port area.


FRIDAY 11 April


AFTERNOON: Welcome session. And presentation of introductory papers.


EVENING: Dance party with local musicians and young people of the town




ALL DAY: Presentations of formal papers


EVENING: Formal concert in the main hall of the Maison de la Culture


SUNDAY 13 April


ALL DAY: Presentations of formal papers


EVENING: Informal music session, including Rebetiko Band, at the open-air cafe in Place du Caire.


MONDAY 14 April


Breakfast farewells. Proposals for our next conference in 2027. And an option of visits to local sites of archaeological and cultural interest.






Last updated 3.iii.2024