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Disorientations: Spanish Colonialism in Africa and the Performance of Identity

Susan Martin-Márquez
Copyright Date: 2008
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 456
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  • Book Info
    Book Description:

    This book explores from a new perspective the fraught processes of Spaniards' efforts to formulate a national identity, from the Enlightenment to the present day. Focusing on the nation's Islamic-African legacy, Susan Martin-Márquez disputes received wisdom that Spain has consistently rejected its historical relationship to Muslims and Africans. Instead, she argues, Spaniards have sometimes denied and sometimes embraced this legacy, and that vacillation has served to destabilize presumably fixed borders between Europe and the Muslim world and between Europe and Africa.

    Martin-Márquez analyzes a wealth of texts produced by Spaniards as well as by Africans and Afro-Spaniards from the early nineteenth century forward. She illuminates the complexities and disorientations of Spanish identity and shows how its evolution has important implications for current debates not only in Spanish culture but also in other countries involved in negotiating a modern identity.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-15252-4
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-vii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. viii-x)
  4. Introduction: Theorizing the Performance of Spanish Identity
    (pp. 1-11)

    Newly circumcised, with his body, face, and head shaven, wrapped in a white woolhaikand shod in yellow leather slippers, the Catalan scientist and spy Domingo Badía (a.k.a. Alí Bey) prepared to insinuate his way into the most exclusive circle of Moroccan society. By 1803, the date of Badía’s spectacular exercise in “going native,” Spain had experienced several tense decades of amity and enmity with neighboring Morocco. Between 1767 and 1780 the Enlightenment king Charles III had signed several historic political and commercial treaties with his like-minded counterpart, the sultan Muhammad ben Abd Allah, but after the death of...

  5. 1 Power Plays: Reformulations of Spanish Identity and the Colonization of Africa
    (pp. 12-63)

    Expanding upon a number of the phenomena that I briefly sketched out in the Introduction, in this chapter I provide the crucial historical context for the remainder of the book’s analyses. I begin by revisiting the notion of “first-wave” and “second-wave” nation building, considering some of the diverse ways in which previous conceptualizations of the Spanish nation were reworked from the late eighteenth through the nineteenth centuries, as the precise nature of Spain’s “African legacy” was described and debated. The central role of Arabism in this process will be detailed, along with the gradual spread of innovative views on Spain’s...

  6. 2 The “Savage” Art of Mimicry in Spain’s Colonization of Sub-Saharan Africa
    (pp. 64-100)

    In the fall of 2000, even as Spanish authorities moved to expedite the expulsion of the thousands of African would-be immigrants who routinely arrive on Spain’s southern shores, the inhabitants of the Catalan town of Banyoles lamented their inability to retain their own African, the stuffed man known as “El Negro” who had stood, loincloth-clad and spear in hand, in an exposition at the local natural history museum since 1916.¹ Generations of schoolchildren had gawked at this reputed tribal chief, whose remains had been stolen from a fresh grave in southern Africa sometime around 1830 and prepared for display by...

  7. 3 Staging the Odalisque’s Conquest in the Spanish–Moroccan War (1859–60)
    (pp. 101-160)

    The profound ambivalence of Ángel Ganivet’s Africanism, discussed in the previous chapter, is anticipated several decades earlier in Pedro Antonio de Alarcón’s wildly popular writings of the Spanish-Moroccan War era. Ganivet’s reverie of African conquest follows upon his scathing critique of Spanish imperialism. But in Alarcón’s case, the dream of colonial action in Morocco that appears in his story “Una conversación en la Alhambra” (A Conversation in the Alhambra) precedes his more contradictory war correspondence as a journalist and enlisted soldier, gathered in hisDiario de un testigo de la Guerra de África(Diary of an Eyewitness to the African...

  8. 4 The Masculine Role in the Spanish-Moroccan Theater of War
    (pp. 161-219)

    While, as discussed in the previous chapter, late nineteenth-century Spanish colonial texts that centered on North Africa were frequently forced to negotiate the dramatic sociocultural shifts associated with modernity, including the growing independence of women, by the early twentieth century the intensive militarization of the Spanish neocolonial venture in Morocco brought into much sharper focus the related crises in masculine identities. In recent years cultural theorists and historians have worked to scrutinize the fundamental importance of colonial and other forms of warfare for the construction of men’s gender roles and sexuality in a number of European nations at the time....

  9. 5 Unmasking Family Values in Franco’s African Colonies
    (pp. 220-299)

    It is a critical commonplace that the Rebels represented the Civil War as a new Reconquest, but in reality the rhetoric of the Franco regime was much more complex, since, as discussed in the previous chapter, Spanish Christians had foughtalongsideNorth African Muslims to overcome the Republicans, who were deemed the true “foreign infidels.” While it is indeed the case that Francoist mythification of history would compare the dictator’s regime to the reign of Ferdinand and Isabella—both ushered in the (re)birth of the nation—the Moorish past required finessing, so as not to offend the loyal Moroccan “brothers”...

  10. 6 Performance Anxieties on the Edge of Fortress Europe
    (pp. 300-354)

    Francoist colonial structures only provided negative models to the Moroccans, Equatoguineans, and Saharawis who labored to envision a future freedom, as several of the texts analyzed in the previous chapter make clear. Independence movement leaders sought inspiration in other paradigms, such as pan-Arabism and various forms of Marxian-inflected anticolonialism, unfortunately with less-than-satisfactory results. Upon the death of Franco on November 20, 1975, metropolitan Spaniards, too, scrambled to identify prototypes that would enable them to fashion a new nation, and their relatively smooth transition to democratic governance was deemed both surprising and exemplary at the time.¹ It might be presumed that,...

  11. Afterword
    (pp. 355-358)

    At the end of the previous chapter, I suggested that the increasing presence of immigrants in Spanish life and cultural production is leading to a new form of “disorientation,” as communities in Spain are forced to confront the realities of a modern-day convivencia, rather than indulge fantasies of a convivencia associated with a remote past. If that is the case, however, it might be asserted that the challenges now faced within Spain are not in fact so different from those experienced elsewhere in Europe. That is to say, the era of a singularly Spanish disorientation, in the many ways in...

  12. Notes
    (pp. 359-386)
  13. Works Cited
    (pp. 387-418)
  14. Index
    (pp. 419-445)