Mediterranean Coasts

Coasts form a small portion of the Earth’s physical environments, yet they are key interface between marine and terrestrial ecosystems and a hotspot of biodiversity. In the  last century, these unique environments have been developed at a fast pace, and are now particularly at risk to conditions linked with climate change. Until recent times, few environmental histories focused explicitly on the coast. This project, funded by IDEX junior excellence chair and running between 2016 and 2019 focused on the environmental history of north-western Europe’s Mediterranean coastline. The project aimed to write a social, political, ecological, and geomorphological history of this stretch of coast in the long transition to the urban-industrial era, from the early nineteenth century to the present.  The project team included myself as principal investigator, Dr. Renaud Beécot as postdoctoral scholar at the Center for History at Sciences Po (2016-2017) and two collaborators from Spain (Dr. Ismael Yrigoy) and Italy (Dr. Marco Caligari) both working on the project between 2016 and 2017.

Published outputs of this project include:

  • Giacomo Parrinello and Renaud Becot, ‘Regional Planning and the Environmental Impact of Coastal Tourism: The Mission Racine for the Redevelopment of Languedoc-Roussillon’s Littoral, in “Bayscapes: Shaping the Coastal Infrastructure Through Time” edited by Poul Holm and Niall Brady, special issue of Humanities, 8, 1, 13,
  • Giacomo Parrinello, Renaud Becot, Marco Caligari, Ismael Yrigoy, “The Shifting Shores of the Anthropocene:  The Settlement and (Impossible) Stabilization of the North-Western Mediterranean Littoral over the 19th and 20th Centuries”, Environment and History (Online First) 2019.
  • Renaud, Bécot and Giacomo Parrinello. “Gouverner le désir de rivage. La fondation du Conservatoire du littoral, 1972-1978 “, Le Mouvement Social,  271, 2, 2020: 65-82.
  • Giacomo Parrinello, “Le littoral: une enquête historique à l’ère de l’Anthropocène”, Cogito: le magasin de la recherche 11, June 2020,

As part of the activities linked to this project, I have co-organized with Renaud Becot a workshop, entitled “Des sociétés littorales contemporaines ? Entre mutation et rémanence à l’heure de la colonisation de l’environnement côtier“, held at the Center for History at Sciences Po on June 6, 2017.

I have also organized and chaired a Round Table, which was included in the programem of the last meeting of the European Society for Environmental History in Zagreb, June 28-July2 2017, entitled “Environmental History at the Coastal Edge.” Participants included Elsa Devienne, Craig E. Colten, Kara Schlichting, Isaac Land, and Christopher Pastore.  The participants animated a rich and stimulating discussions around three general questions: what does it imply to integrate coasts in environmental history? How do we define coasts and coastal environments from a historical perspective? Are there socioecological dynamics and conflicts specific to the coast? Touching upon issues of risk and resilience, contestation and conflict, along with methodological and theoretical reflections on the shoreline, the speakers showcased the diversity of approaches and questions that animate emerging research in coastal environmental history in multiple world regions.

Finally, in 2018, I have co-convened with prof. Davide Orsini of Mississippi State University a workshop entitled Below the Surface: A New Wave of Interdisciplinary Mediterranean Studies and Environmental Changes. The workshop was held at the Menton Campus of Sciences Po on October 18-20.