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

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Purdue University Press
Professional & Scholarly


With the intense economic development and accelerated modernization experienced by Spain since the 1970s, and especially following its entrance to 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 20 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 to Spain's tenuous position between Europe and Africa.