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Migration and the City: Urban Effects of the Morisco Expulsion


This dissertation locates and analyzes the mechanisms and forms of urban change that accompanied the forced mass migration of the Moriscos, descendants of Spanish Muslims forcibly converted to Catholicism. The Moriscos, converted between 1501 and 1526, and expelled first from Granada in 1570 and later from all of Spain between 1609 and 1614, were perceived as an ideological threat by the Spanish state. This population constituted a significant population of urban dwellers in Granada, and, after the expulsions, formed a large percentage of the inhabitants of the North African cities of Rabat and Tetouan.

This dissertation examines the transformation of the three cities of Granada, Rabat, and Tetouan, as sites of depopulation and urban growth that were directly transformed through changes in patterns of Morisco inhabitation. Treating urban interventions at scales ranging from that of the individual and vernacular (through small-scale changes engendered by individual actors) to the collective, this dissertation considers the city, the neighborhood, and the house as ideologically-linked urban elements, the stasis and transformation of which reflect degrees of integration into the social landscape on the part of this sociocultural minority.

The shifts caused by the massive movement of Moriscos were incremental ones that radically altered both centers and peripheries of the cities themselves. Before looking at these cities, I describe briefly the systems in place in both Spain and Saadian North Africa and the great political and social changes that surrounded the Morisco expulsion. After considering the city as a whole, particularly through historical images, I proceed to a discussion of the neighborhood as a unit of change. Through analyses of one parish in Granada that suffered massive population loss at the time of the Morisco expulsion and growth of an extra-mural area in the same city, I posit that administrative attempts to control urban density and use failed in the face of dynamic, shifting populaces. I then consider the Uyun neighborhood in Tetouan, which grew linearly and incorporated small-scale religious structures, and two small urban enclaves within the Rabat medina, in which collective decision-making and controlled points of entry created highly-defensible, rationally-planned small-scale insertions to an urban framework that had been largely defined in the twelfth through fourteenth centuries. In both Rabat and Tetouan, Morisco neighborhoods responded, ultimately, to practical concerns and needs.

I then situate the Morisco house within the larger traditions of both Andalusian Muslim-era domestic structures and both earlier and later house forms in the Maghreb. Given the informal nature of both the construction and documentation of these structures, compounded with centuries of change, I posit that the Morisco house in both Granada and the Maghreb constituted an adaptation of pre-existing forms, built at scales and densities responding to economic, social, and practical concerns.

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