This introduction addresses the book’s main arguments and themes and provides historical background on the history of the Strait of Gibraltar as a political boundary. It also outlines the book’s sources and methodology and lays out the chapter-by-chapter narrative arc. The Strait of Gibraltar first became a political border in the sixteenth century, with several smaller borders proliferating on its shores as multiple empires carved out coastal exclaves and spheres of influence. These borders form the crucial starting point for understanding the region’s political geography. Borders are the key sites of negotiation between sovereign power and human mobility. They possess material, legal, political, and metaphorical meaning, all of which are central to the ongoing process of mediating relationships among the empires, ethno-religious groups, and trade networks operating in the region.
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