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Exotic Nation

Maurophilia and the Construction of Early Modern Spain

By Barbara Fuchs

Publication Year: 2012

In the Western imagination, Spain often evokes the colorful culture of al-Andalus, the Iberian region once ruled by Muslims. Tourist brochures inviting visitors to sunny and romantic Andalusia, home of the ingenious gardens and intricate arabesques of Granada's Alhambra Palace, are not the first texts to trade on Spain's relationship to its Moorish past. Despite the fall of Granada to the Catholic Monarchs in 1492 and the subsequent repression of Islam in Spain, Moorish civilization continued to influence both the reality and the perception of the Christian nation that emerged in place of al-Andalus.

In Exotic Nation, Barbara Fuchs explores the paradoxes in the cultural construction of Spain in relation to its Moorish heritage through an analysis of Spanish literature, costume, language, architecture, and chivalric practices. Between 1492 and the expulsion of the Moriscos (Muslims forcibly converted to Christianity) in 1609, Spain attempted to come to terms with its own Moorishness by simultaneously repressing Muslim subjects and appropriating their rich cultural heritage. Fuchs examines the explicit romanticization of the Moors in Spanish literature—often referred to as "literary maurophilia"—and the complex, often silent presence of Moorish forms in Spanish material culture. The extensive hybridization of Iberian culture suggests that the sympathetic depiction of Moors in the literature of the period does not trade in exoticism but instead reminded Spaniards of the place of Moors and their descendants within Spain. Meanwhile, observers from outside Spain recognized its cultural debt to al-Andalus, often deliberately casting Spain as the exotic racial other of Europe.

Published by: University of Pennsylvania Press

Title Page

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Copyright Page

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Dedication Page

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Table of Contents

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pp. vii

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pp. 1-10

In the Western imaginary, Spain often evokes the romantic, colorful culture of ‘‘Moorish’’ al-Andalus. This is the Spain of Washington Irving’s Tales of the Alhambra, of courtyards lined with azulejos, and of recent tourism campaigns that tout sunny Andalucı´a as the essence of Iberia. Despite the fall of Granada to the...

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Chapter 1 : The Quotidian and the Exotic

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pp. 11-30

Cultural transformations do not align themselves neatly even with such major events as the end of the Christian conquest of Granada. The gradual nature of Christian military advances meant that Christian and Moorish practices coexisted more or less uneasily for centuries in Iberia, even in areas where the Christians had triumphed. In terms of everyday life, the fall of Granada was far...

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Chapter 2: In Memory of Moors: History, Maurophilia, and the Built Vernacular

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pp. 31-59

Over the course of the sixteenth century, humanist historiography came of age in Spain, in a process that culminated in the Jesuit Juan de Mariana’s great Historiae de rebus Hispaniae (1592), an account of Spain from its first mythical settlement to Mariana’s own time. The Latin history was so well received that Mariana...

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Chapter 3: The Moorish Fashion

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pp. 60-87

There is an implicit tension in the philologist Ramon Menendez Pidal’s well-known account of literary maurophilia. While the critic rightly recognizes the profound hybridization of Iberian culture, he nonetheless describes the relation between Christian and Moorish forms as an unconsummated ‘‘attraction’’ to a civilization cordoned off in Granada. By describing maurophilia...

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Chapter 4: Playing the Moor

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pp. 88-114

As I suggested in Chapter 3, while the fashion for Moorish romances became a full-fledged craze in the 1580s and 1590s, other forms of maurophilia and Moorish lore spanned a much longer period. This chapter focuses on the ceremonial and chivalric uses of Moorishness, to show how it was paradoxically embraced by Spaniards as emblematic of national identity long after the Christian victory in Granada. My title alludes to Playing Indian, the influential study of...

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Chapter 5 : The Spanish Race

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pp. 115-138

With their emphasis on the stuff of a shared material culture, maurophile texts recall for Spaniards the undeniable place of the Andalusi heritage in their own practices. Yet from the anonymous romancero to the Abencerraje to the Guerras civiles de Granada, maurophilia trades also in the powerful erotic charge of...

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Postscript: Moorish Commonplaces

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pp. 139-144

Given the widespread practices and constructions that I have traced throughout this book, it should come as no surprise that Moorishness continues to define ideas of Spain long after the expulsion of the Moriscos in the early seventeenth century. Whether as a domestic alternative to French cultural influence from the Enlightenment to the nineteenth century, or as the distinctive...


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pp. 145-178


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pp. 179-192


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pp. 193-198

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pp. 199-200

In writing an interdisciplinary book, one relies even more than usual on the generosity and support of scholars in a wide range of fields. Exotic Nation has benefited from the expertise of Jodi Bilinkoff, Cammy Brothers, Renata Holod, Fernando Martı´nez Nespral, Gridley McKim- Smith, Daniel Nemser, Nichole Prescott, Larry Silver, and Amanda Wunder, who helped...

E-ISBN-13: 9780812207354
Print-ISBN-13: 9780812221732

Page Count: 208
Publication Year: 2012