Russia and the great powers in the Mediterranean

The international history of the modern Mediterranean and the unique paths of its states till today

Using archival sources from the French, Russian, United States’, Egyptian, former Yugoslav, British and Italian national archives, as well as from institutional archives in Tunis, Washington D.C., Zagreb, Rome and Nicosia, Rusmed-project sheds new light on how Cold War power politics and post-colonial independence affected a once conjoined geographical and geopolitical union – The Mediterranean. Rusmed’s studies focus on questions of how US/Soviet politics shaped the postcolonial make-up of North African, Middle Eastern and Southern European states. The project seeks to discover anew the independent agencies and international relations histories of Post-WWII Mediterranean states. Pathways of the area's states in international history help to illuminate the makeup of today’s Mediterranean – its potential and also networks of interconnected problems related to states’ instability, migration and inequality.


Rusmed-project contributes to rewriting the international relations history of the modern Mediterranean. It underlines the unique paths to state building and the role of international relations in the area after the Second World War till today.

The project is an exploration to history resources of the Mediterranean area. Under examination are international relations of Algeria, Egypt, Syria, Tunisia, Morocco, Yugoslavia and Cyprus. The project focuses on how the Soviet-US rivalry affected and contributed to state development as well as the history of unrest in the Mediterranean, but also considers a series of more current questions: the common influences to the conjoined geographical and geopolitical space such as Italy's renewed construction of the idea of mare nostrum in the period after 1945 to replace old imperialist/fascist connotation with a case of cultural and diplomatic expertise; The political project of the French Union, The development of the European Union's external borders management agency.


Rinna Kullaa

Rkulllaa picture6Is the Principal Investigator of the five-year RUSMED-project sponsored by the Academy of Finland (2015-2020), is a Visiting Professor at the Department of East European History, University of Vienna and is on leave from a tenure track position in Global History at the University of Tampere. She is a historian of contemporary international relations who currently works in addition to Russian/Soviet influence in the Mediterranean on the political issues related to the construction of European Union’s foreign policy.

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Leyla Dakhli

Leyla dakhliAssociate Researcher is a Director of Research of the French Center for National Research (CNRS). She is presently settled at the Marc Bloch Centre in Berlin where she leads the working group on Migration, territories and society. Her work focuses on the historical study of Arab intellectuals and the cultural history of the South Mediterranean region. She considers languages as a way to understand the entangled history of the Mediterranean area and focuses on the analysis of the social history of intellectuals, as well as the interrelated question of languages in the Middle East and North Africa. Dakhli is the founder of the European Society of Authors, dedicated to promote translation and ideas’ exchanges all around the world ( Her publications include the monograph Histoire du Proche-Orient contemporain, Paris, La Découverte, 2015 and Between Loyalty and Reconciliation: What is the Role of Politics in a Post-Revolutionary Tunisia, Paris, Pouvoirs – revue française d’études constitutionnelles et politiques, n°156, 2016.

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Houda Ben Hamouda

Houda ben HamoudaAssociate Researcher Is a Postdoctoral Researcher in Mediterranean area studies and the co-organizer of the Méditerranée / Afrique research group of the LabEX EHNE project at Paris 1 Sorbonne University. She will defend her doctoral dissertation La France, la CEE et les pays maghrébins. De l’association à la coopération (1957-1981) completed under the supervision of Professor Robert Frank in May 2016, at Paris 1 Sorbonne. 

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Vladislav Zubok spinus@yandex.r

Head of Advisory Board | Is a Professor of International History at the London School of Economics. He is an expert on the history of the Cold War, The Soviet Union, Stalinism and the intellectual history of Russia. He was born and educated in Moscow and has worked as a professor among others at Stanford and Temple universities in the United States. His monograph A Failed Empire: The Soviet Union in the Cold War from Stalin to Gorbachev, won the 2008 Marshall Shulman book prize. His projects have received funding from the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars, The Bobel Instittue of Norway, The Yeltsin Foundation, Russkii Mir Foundation and the McArthur Foundation. 

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Rusmed network researchers:

  • Vasilis Molos, Assistant Professor, NYU Abu Dhabi
  • Vijay Prashad, Professor, Trinity College, Conneticut
  • Etienne Peyrat, Post-Doctoral Researcher, Sciences Po, Paris
  • Sophie Lambroschini, Doctoral Candidate, Université Nanterre La Défense and  Marc Bloch Centre Berlin

Institutions in the network

Academy of Finland
University of Vienna: RECET
Sciences Po University, Department of History and the the Centre d’ Histoire
FinCEAL, Africa
Marc Bloch Centre Berlin


Rusmed explores research tools and perspectives useful for rewriting the international history of the Modern Mediterranean and the unique paths of it's states today.

Perhaps the best known current day frame of reference for the study of the sea basin continues to be Fernand Braudel's concept of the Mediterranean area's longue durée history from the 16th century until the two World Wars. Written in the immediate post-WWII period in Paris, his thesis underlines firstly the importance of area foci and geography in European influenced perspectives. It secondly draws on history’s influence on the long-term.  Rusmed project acknowledges Braudel's important contribution, but considers it within contemporary context of the history of the global south, legacies left by Western development aid in the area, circular migration, exchanges between Africa and Europe that include African influences on Europe and the durability of Russia's influence and presence across the Mediterranean area.




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