The Return of the Moor

The Return of the Moor: spa Responses to Contemporary Moroccan Immigration

Daniela Flesler
Copyright Date: 2008
Published by: Purdue University Press
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    The Return of the Moor
    Book Description:

    The Return of the Moor examines the anxiety over symbolic and literal boundaries permeating the spa reception of these immigrants through an interdisciplinary analysis of social, fictional and performative texts. It argues that Moroccans constitute a “problem” to Spaniards not because of their cultural differences, as many claim, but because they are not different enough.

    eISBN: 978-1-61249-121-9
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Introduction European Immigration, New Racism, and the Case of Spain
    (pp. 1-16)

    On November 10, 1992, in the wake of the 500th anniversary of the Christian conquest of Granada, the Spanish state signed a cooperation agreement with the Islamic communities in Spain, which became Law 26/1992. As explained in the text itself, such agreement was possible because of the profound change in the state’s attitude toward religion brought about by the 1978 Constitution, which guaranteed the rights of equality and religious freedom. As an introduction to the description of the protected rights that Muslims and their places of worship would henceforth have in Spain, the agreement states that Islam, which has become...

  5. Chapter One Difference Within and Without: Negotiating European, National, and Regional Identities in Spain
    (pp. 17-54)

    This chapter examines the dynamics of Spanish “difference” within Europe and within Spain’s own regions as related to the issue of immigration. More specifically, it analyzes how current Moroccan immigration to Spain both destabilizes and reaffirms the notion of Spain’s “difference,” both internal and external. Spanish attempts to gain acceptance into the European Economic Community began in 1962, when the request was denied because Spain, still under Franco’s dictatorship, did not fulfill the required political conditions. In 1977, with the return of democracy, entry was solicited again. After years of negotiations, it was finally granted in June 1985. As for...

  6. Chapter Two Ghostly Returns: The “Loss” of Spain, the Invading “Moor,” and the Contemporary Moroccan Immigrant
    (pp. 55-96)

    One of the most troubling aspects of the current relationship of Spaniards as hosts and Moroccans as guests is a slippage by which Moroccans are transformed from immigrants who have come in search of economic opportunities to invaders who have come to reclaim what was once theirs. Derrida states inSpecters of Marxthat “haunting is historical” (4). The presence of a ghost tells us that the past is not closed and solved, but that the present “is still haunted by the symptomatic traces of its productions and exclusions” (Gordon 17), by that which has been rendered ghostly (Gordon 18),...

  7. Chapter Three Playing Guest and Host: Moors and Christians, Moroccans and Spaniards in Historical Novels and Festive Reenactments
    (pp. 97-130)

    This chapter examines the relationship between Moroccan immigration and the current popularity of the figure of the medieval Moor in the culture and tourist industry, focusing on the “boom” of historical novels and the multitudinous festivals of Moors and Christians. In both of these cases, the preoccupation with current changes in the racial and ethnic composition of Spanish society is displaced into a distant and safer past, the imaginary and idealized space of medieval Spain’s “multiculturalismavant la lettre.” Both the novels and the festivals are plagued by the anxiety of delimiting, in that past, the concrete space occupied by...

  8. Chapter Four Impossible Love: The Presumed Incompatibility of Islam and (European) Spain
    (pp. 131-162)

    The European (mostly retirees) and Latin American (mostly political) immigrants of the 1970s and early 1980s were seen as generally belonging to the same “cultural traditions” as Spaniards. In contrast, the arrival of African and North African immigrants in the late 1980s and 1990s were received with increasing concern, as they were seen as a “foreign” population, without close cultural, religious, or linguistic ties to Spain. This chapter analyzes the love stories between Spanish women and immigrant men in current Spanish film and fiction as a symptom of Spain’s “locational uneasiness” between Europe and North Africa. Even though these texts...

  9. Chapter Five Testimonies of Immigrant Life: Fact, Fiction, and the Ethnographic Performance
    (pp. 163-194)

    As it attempts to establish clear-cut differences with Moroccans, the narrative strategy explored in this chapter is what I call the ethnographic performance. Its formula constructs immigrants as subalterns to be interviewed, analyzed, and written about by Spaniards, in an attempt to represent an “accurate picture” of what their lives are like. Texts likeDormir al raso(Pasqual Moreno Torregrosa and Mohamed El Gheryb, 1994),Yo, Mohamed: historias de inmigrantes en un país de emigrantes(Rafael Torres, 1995),Todo negro no igual(Beatriz Díaz, 1997); documentary films likeTodos os llamáis Mohamed(Maximiliano Lemcke, 1997); and novels likeLas voces...

  10. Conclusion Confronting Ghosts
    (pp. 195-198)

    A thread of profound anxiety runs through the many narratives that chronicle contemporary Spanish responses to Moroccan immigration. This uneasiness was compounded by the fact that this immigration phenomenon began to take place precisely at the time when Spain, after officially being accepted as a member of the EU, was attempting to highlight its “Europeaness” both domestically and abroad. Perceived as a contemporary “return of the Moors,” the arrival of Moroccan workers over the last twenty years has obligated Spain to confront old ghosts related to its own national, regional, racial, and cultural identities. Moroccans today are received differently from...

  11. Notes
    (pp. 199-218)
  12. Works Cited
    (pp. 219-238)
  13. Index
    (pp. 239-245)
  14. Back Matter
    (pp. 246-247)