Spain Unmoored: Migration, Conversion, and the Politics of Islam

Spain Unmoored: Migration, Conversion, and the Politics of Islam

Spain Unmoored: Migration, Conversion, and the Politics of Islam

Spain Unmoored: Migration, Conversion, and the Politics of Islam

Synopsis

Long viewed as Spain's "most Moorish city," Granada is now home to a growing Muslim population of Moroccan migrants and European converts to Islam. Mikaela H. Rogozen-Soltar examines how various residents of Granada mobilize historical narratives about the city's Muslim past in order to navigate tensions surrounding contemporary ethnic and religious pluralism. Focusing particular attention on the gendered, racial, and political dimensions of this new multiculturalism, Rogozen-Soltar explores how Muslim-themed tourism and Islamic cultural institutions coexist with anti-Muslim sentiments.

Excerpt

PREFACE
Between Convivencia and Malafollá:
Coexistence or Exclusion?

LIKE many shy anthropologists, the first thing I did when I moved to Granada, Spain, in the summer of 2007 was sign up for refresher language classes despite already speaking Spanish. I found the weekly schedule of classes comforting as I slowly began to enter the world of full-time fieldwork, researching Islam and migration in the southern Spanish region called Andalusia. Luckily, while I did not initially envision it as research, Spanish class became a valuable field site. Nuria, the instructor of my conversation class, took it upon herself to teach her students not only local colloquialisms and norms of Andalusian language use, but also her take on the “character” of Granadinos, the inhabitants of the city. She told endless stories about her family, neighbors, and coworkers, emphasizing what she saw as “typical” or “representative” illustrations of Andalusian regional identity in general, and of Granadino culture in particular. She wanted us to learn to speak like Spain’s southerners, and to understand them. It was through Nuria’s discussions of “Andalusianness” that I first learned about the concept of the Granadino malafollá (rudeness, or a rude person who is inhospitable to others, especially to outsiders).

One day, Nuria told the following story. Arriving in class huffing and puffing with annoyance, she declared that she was “over” going to her neighborhood grocery store, and that we would not believe what had just happened there. While in line to pay, Nuria had overheard the woman behind her say to a companion, “Today la mora is coming to clean my house.” La mora (literally, the Moor) referred to the woman’s Moroccan or . . .

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