This dissertation focuses on the use of the al-Andalus myth and its articulation of Spanish identity via the so-called textos africanistas, which are a series of chronicles and literary works written in response to the 1859 Spanish invasion of Morocco. In the 19th and 20th centuries, these literary texts advanced novel ideas about the construction of a Spanish identity closely tied to al-Andalus. I argue that in its passage from history to myth, the Arabic-Islamic becomes malleable and was used very effectively for different and even opposing ideological agendas. Conservatives and liberals, as well as nationalists on the Spanish periphery, used the Arabic-Islamic as a signifying singularity in opposition to the image of Spain’s backwardness preached by other European countries. Moreover, this myth was used in governmental rhetoric and by intellectuals from all political tendencies as a way to justify Spanish colonialism in North Africa. All considered the Magreb a land that belonged to Spain as a historical right. Most of the literary corpus generated from the War of Africa evokes the medieval Reconquest while some authors utilize the war in Africa to reflect in vivid and complex ways on questions related to the contemporary Spanish political problems.
I analyze the Africanist chronicles of four Spanish authors: Ros de Olano, Nu�ez de Arce, Pedro Antonio de Alarc�n, and Benito P�rez Gald�s. The first three reported from the war front while the latter wrote about the war forty years afterwards in his novel Aita Tettauen. National politics and identity were these authors’ central concerns and determined the way they viewed the war and defined the enemy. The authors reverse the roles of colonizer and colonized, turning the enemy into a kind of Romantic hero similar to the Spaniards who resisted the French invasion in 1808. In my chapter on Galdos’ Aita Tettauen, I analyze the influence that an Arabic chronicle entitled Kitab al-Istiqsa li-Akhbar duwal alMaghrib al-Aqsa (written by Ahmed ben Jalid al –Nasiri) had on Gald�s’ representation of the war.
I argue that these narratives forged new directions in Spain’s literature via writers corresponding intensely with readers and establishing an intentional intertextuality among the war chronicles. The graphic element as pictures or illustrations exerted considerable influence on the narrations, creating a predatory relationship between word and image. Moroccan spaces become an agential narrative element with scenic exhibitionism and theatricality inherent to the cr�nicas, which I term “identity travestism.” But most importantly, these Africanist texts are a transference of the political and intellectual debate taking place in the Peninsula, redefining the Arabic enemy and “Otherness.” The roles of colonizer and colonized are confused. The Arab, like the Spaniard who rejects the French invasion of 1808, is represented as a romantic Spanish hero given his historical bonds with Spain and his right to defend his country and religion.
The main contribution of my dissertation resides in elucidating the ways in which the myth of al-Andalus acts as a vehicle of definition for Spanish identity more than as a sign of identity in itself. This myth creates points of connection between opposing ideological discourses and creates throughout the twentieth century a transnational dialogue between Spain, the Mediterranean, and Latin America.
In the conclusion, I put forward future research projects that analyze the peripheral nationalism of southern Spain where al-Andalus heritage is paramount. This nationalism is articulated as alalandalusismo and panalalandlusmo, which is the use of the al-Andalus myth in Latin America that considers this part of the world as “the new al-Andalus.”