Through state-backed Catholicism, monolingualism, militarism, and dictatorship, Spain’s fascists earned their reputation for intolerance. It may therefore come as a surprise that 80,000 Moroccans fought at General Franco’s side in the 1930s. What brought these strange bedfellows together, Eric Calderwood argues, was a highly effective propaganda weapon: the legacy of medieval Muslim Iberia, known as al-Andalus. This legacy served to justify Spain’s colonization of Morocco and also to define the Moroccan national culture that supplanted colonial rule.
Writers of many political stripes have celebrated convivencia, the fabled “coexistence” of Christians, Muslims, and Jews in medieval Iberia. According to this widely-held view, modern Spain and Morocco are joined through their shared Andalusi past. Colonial al-Andalus traces this supposedly timeless narrative to the mid-1800s, when Spanish politicians and intellectuals first used it to press for Morocco’s colonization. Franco later harnessed convivencia to the benefit of Spain’s colonial program in Morocco. This shift precipitated an eloquent historical irony. As Moroccans embraced the Spanish insistence on Morocco’s Andalusi heritage, a Spanish idea about Morocco gradually became a Moroccan idea about Morocco.
Drawing on a rich archive of Spanish, Arabic, French, and Catalan sources—including literature, historiography, journalism, political speeches, schoolbooks, tourist brochures, and visual arts—Calderwood reconstructs the varied political career of convivencia and al-Andalus, showing how shared pasts become raw material for divergent contemporary ideologies, including Spanish fascism and Moroccan nationalism. Colonial al-Andalus exposes the limits of simplistic oppositions between European and Arab, Christian and Muslim, that shape current debates about European colonialism.
The particular value of a book like Colonial al-Andalus is the way it illuminates and historicizes these mythologies, tracing a story that itself extends far beyond Iberia and Morocco. The book brings our attention to some of the less-acknowledged uses of convivencia and also excises the debate over intercultural and interreligious relations in medieval Iberia from its academic confines. With this book in our hands, we have new tools with which to understand Mediterranean crossings and the rhetoric that surrounds them today.
Colonial al-Andalus is brilliantly contextualized, moving from close reading of texts and documents to wider reflections on their significance in the study of nationalisms in the Iberian Peninsula, Mediterranean identity, and colonialism in North Africa… A beautifully written and engaging book that will be of interest to scholars in a range of fields and accessible to specialists and non-specialists alike.
Calderwood has pioneered an innovative way of thinking about North African history, and this book will be foundational to the burgeoning interdisciplinary field of Spanish–Moroccan studies.
A magisterial account of the trajectory of the myth of al-Andalus, its meanings, and the ideological uses to which it has been put. It is exemplary in its comparative approach, skillful analysis, and clarity of exposition. A landmark book, it is de rigueur for students and scholars interested in Spanish–Moroccan relations but also relevant to broader studies concerned with European relations with North Africa.
An innovative, rigorous, clearly argued, and fascinating study of how Morocco’s colonial entanglement with Spain shaped its modern cultural identity…While it is clearly an essential read for anyone interested in Spanish colonialism in North Africa, Colonial al-Andalus will also be of interest to a variety of scholars working in fields such as comparative literature, cultural studies, Spanish, Arabic, history, and art history.
Offers a corrective to the imbalance of attention paid to the French Protectorate, while elucidating the depth of cultural cross-over that made possible the differing uses of al-Andalus…Calderwood’s thesis is so original, his proof so wide-ranging.
Calderwood’s work exemplifies the best of postcolonial scholarship and sheds new light on the Moroccan colonial period, focusing on the Spanish protectorate and its effects. This is an important book about the myth of convivencia, as well as its colonial reality.
Colonial North Africa is virtually synonymous with the French imperial project. What happens, then, when we turn our attention to Spanish colonialism in Morocco? Eric Calderwood deftly traces the intimate and frequently surprising entanglements of Spanish colonial rule in modern Morocco and the legacy of medieval Muslim Spain. Through a sensitive engagement with a rich body of largely unknown Arabic and Spanish sources, Colonial al-Andalus reconfigures our understanding of colonialism and anticolonial resistance in North Africa and beyond.
Eric Calderwood’s Colonial al-Andalus is a landmark contribution to the burgeoning field of Hispano-African studies. Straddling Arabic and Spanish sources with equal aplomb, the author demonstrates how the reinvention of Morocco’s national identity within the idealized legacy of medieval Andalus is a purely modern outcome of its colonial encounter with Spain. This stunning work on the intertwining fates of Spain and Morocco in colonial and postcolonial times offers welcome correctives to the tendentious juxtaposition of Islam and the West and other such inadequate interpretive frames for historical analysis across cultures.
- 2019, Winner of the L. Carl Brown AIMS Book Prize in North African Studies
- 408 pages
- 6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
- Belknap Press
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