This study analyzes the expression of Spanish national identity built to suit the patron’s interests in The Masque of the Expulsion of the Moriscos (1617), by Mira de Amescua. Commissioned by King Philip III of Spain’s favorite, the Duke of Lerma, and staged at the time of his worst power crisis at court, this masque reenacts the successful implementation of the duke’s policies of expulsion of those Spaniards of Muslim descent. The examination of this masque within its historical and cultural context is informed by postcolonial perspectives (Said, Bhabha) on the issues of empire, national identity, and ethnicity, and by anthropological views on the performance of rituals of power (Turner, Geertz). The spectacle’s performance manipulates the foundational narratives of both the Hapsburg Empire and the nation in order to represent the extent to which the king and Spain were in the duke’s debt. The duke’s cultural campaign fed both on the insecurities of the crown’s imperial project (by using its own propagandistic strategies) and on the ethnic anxiety of the Spanish Old Christian caste (by reconfiguring its myths of origin). The representation of the duke as catalyst for the alliance between Spain and the Hapsburg dynasty finds its natural vehicle in the violently anti-Muslim representation of the Morisco hybrid, whose visible presence in Spanish society at the turn of the seventeenth century formed the basis of many of the inadequacy complexes manifested by crown and nation.


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pp. 98-133
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