Contested spaces: Narrating Claims to the Mosque-Cathedral of C?rdoba against the Specter of the Moor
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Throughout its complexly interwoven history with North Africa, Spain has spent centuries trying to negotiate the extent of its essential connection with North Africa. This process of negotiation plays out as a constant reformulation of Spanish identity as a historical narrative that emerges out of a shared heritage of regrets and program of hopes, articulated through reenacted traditions, customs, and mythologies. Spain as a nation, collectively formed from these cultural programs, is therefore the product of careful, while not necessarily consciously deliberate, construction. A consequence of these programs, however, is that they tend to display the nation as a completed essence endowed with natural histories and destinies. In the case of Spain, this completed national narrative is that of a Christian, European continuum, a continuum that is seriously challenged (and even plainly contradicted) by the enduring, present influence of the nearly 800-year Moorish occupation of Spanish culture, architecture, and language. With the re-arrival, as it were, of contemporary Moroccan immigrants on Spanish coasts, these internal contradictions are ever more in the foreground of Spanish anxieties, and exclusive claims to belonging and possession of Spain as a national space are beginning to take form via Islamophobia and anti-immigrant rhetoric. This paper seeks to re-read these anxieties and exclusive claims to Spain as a contested national space through the debates over belonging and possession of the Mosque-Cathedral of C?rdoba as a contested religious space, in the process arguing that it is these contested spaces which ought to be acknowledged as the site of anxiety over immigration and multiculturalism.