intense economic development and accelerated modernization experienced
by Spain since the 1970s, and especially following its entrance
into the European Economic Community in 1986, the country has undergone
a rapid inversion in migratory patterns. After being an exporter
of economic migrants for almost a century, in the last twenty years
Spain has seen itself on the receiving end of immigration. Coinciding
with a time when Spain is highlighting its belonging to Europe,
the growing presence of Moroccan immigrants in particular confronts
Spanish society with the repressed non-European, African and Oriental
aspects of its national identity.
The Return of the Moor examines the anxiety over symbolic
and literal boundaries permeating the Spanish 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. Perceived as “Moors,”
they conjure up past ghosts that continue to haunt the Spanish imaginary,
revealing the acute tensions inherent in Spain's liminal position
between Europe and Africa.
“This is the best analysis I have read to date of Spain’s
paradoxical adoption of a ‘first-world’ and European
identity with almost complete disregard for its historical past
as a country of emigrants and, under Francoism, one that constructed
its identity by stressing its difference from a modern and decadent
Europe. Flesler does an excellent job of reviewing and rewriting
the traditional historiographical narrative of the Muslims’
arrival in AD 711 as the sudden and brutal interruption of a Christian
continuum in Spain. In addition, she incorporates critical discourses
from psychoanalysis, deconstruction, and post-colonial theory
in order to present an incisive reading of a wide range of textual
practices: from popular festivals and tourist brochures to press
articles and popular debates, to novels and film.”—Jaume
Marti-Olivella, Associate Professor of Hispanic Cinema and Cultural
Studies, University of New Hampshire
"The topic could not be more timely, given the burgeoning scientific interest in tracing the genetic legacy of diversity in Spain, as well as the widespread preoccupation with the sometimes violently tense relationships between Islamic and other communities across the globe. ... [The study] provides an essential framework for analysis for all those who seek to understand the full complexity of ongoing interactions between, and cultural constructions of, Spanish and Moroccan 'guests' and 'hosts.' " Susan Martín-Márquez, Revista de Estudios Hispánicos 43.2 (2009): 421-24.
"Flesler contribuye de una manera muy estimulante y eficaz al debate teórico-metodológico en los 'Spanish Cultural Studies.' ... organiza temáticamente su argumentación para analizar, recurriendo a modelos de interpretación deconstructiva y psicohistórica." —Helena López, Bulletin of Spanish Studies 87 (2010): 570-72.
Flesler, State University of New York, Stony Brook, specializes
in contemporary Spanish literary and cultural studies, with a focus
on transnationalism, immigration, and the construction of national
identities. She has published essays in Revista de Estudios
Hispánicos, Arizona Journal of Hispanic Cultural Studies,
Journal of Spanish Cultural Studies, Studies in Hispanic Cinemas,
Dieciocho, and Bulletin of Spanish Studies.
2008. Vol. 43. viii, 246 pp. Paper $43.95
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