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The Contemporary Afterlife of Moorish Spain

Posted: 29 Mar 2010  

Charles Hirschkind

affiliation not provided to SSRN


In this talk I will begin by examining how Spain's Moorish past has been taken up as a problem and affirmed as an inheritance by a few different Spanish thinkers responding to conditions of social and political crisis. Within the dominant currents of Spanish historiography, the final defeat of Spain's Muslim rulers in the 15thcentury and the subsequent expulsion of the Muslim and Jewish populations from its territories stand as the founding events of the Spanish nation. Yet, despite a vigorous and sustained attempt within Spanish historiography to erase Islam (and Judaism) from Spain, a counter-history on the lasting imprint left on Spanish life left by eight hundred years of Muslim presence. In the twentieth century a historiographic literature emerged that aimed at affirming and documenting the heterogeneity of Spain's historical origins and the contribution of Islam to Spanish national culture and identity. In addressing this literature, I aim to highlight the historical sensibilities,attitudes, and practices that ambivalently link the Spanish nation to its Muslim past. I then turn to some of the contemporary movements that incorporate a lived relation to the Islamic past as a condition of ethical agency to explore fissures within contemporary narratives of Europe's Judeo-Christian identity and contribute to debates about religious pluralism within western societies.

Suggested Citation

Hirschkind, Charles, The Contemporary Afterlife of Moorish Spain. Western Political Science Association 2010 Annual Meeting Paper . Available at SSRN:

Charles Hirschkind (Contact Author)

affiliation not provided to SSRN ( email )

No Address Available

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