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Al-Andalus/España. Historiografías en contraste

Manuela Marín


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1Fernando Rodríguez Mediano

2al-andalus and the arabic language in golden age spain

3For 16th-17th century Spanish historiography, al-Andalus was a contradictory issue. On the one hand its imprint was to be found everywhere —in the language, monuments, traces from the past; but at the same time that very presence accentuated (as in the case of the Moriscos) the thorny issue of religion. This article seeks to show that beyond the grand narrative of the «Reconquest» (in which al-Andalus formed part of Spanish history through the logic of a providential military confrontation), this contradictory aspect persisted in the historiography of the period considered here, which was torn between appropriating the Andalusi heritage, whose value was frequently acknowledged, and its rejection of the Muslim religion. This contradiction propitiated some persistence of Arabic learning (hitherto little discussed in the historiography) and also a problematical approach to the issue of continuity and the fracturing of a «Spanish identity» through the Andalusi Middle Ages, which emerges in fields like religious history, archaeology, genealogy and so forth.

4José Antonio González Alcantud

5al-andalus and the southern cities. timelessness and transformation of founding mythts

6This chapter deals with the relationship between the emergence of the myth of al-Andalus and the struggle that the Andalusian cities were forced to wage against that myth, particularly in the sphere of historical/mythological narrative. The first aspect considered is the very trans-temporal formation of the Andalusi myth. This was achieved by means of three logical operations in the field of collective mentalities: first, establishing the superiority of Andalusi culture, above all by hyperbolising the goodness of the Umayyad caliphate; second, splitting the historical narrative, placing the break at the time of the conquest of Granada; and third, constructing an immutable myth going back to remote antiquity and setting it against the Andalusi myth. The echoes of this last struggle can still be heard today, feeding the philias and phobias of historians in a debate whose roots lie in the Spanish orientalism at its own origins. The cities lie at the heart of the new founding myth; and there, there emerge certain legendary narratives with a logic of their own, almost all of them commencing with the Deluge, and in particular with Tubal, descendent of the patriarch Noah. At times cities like Cadiz or Seville deemed it insufficiently ancient to date back only to Hercules and focused on Tubal and his heirs, claiming the honour of having been the sites of mythical places like the Elysian Fields. Nebuchadnezzar, King Hispan, Princess Iberia, Hercules Libycus and the Geryones all appear in the mythical course of the foundation of principal cities and towns of Andalusia. The enlightened project, pioneered by Florián de Ocampo, of purging Spanish and Andalusian history of these foundation myths highlighted the difficulties that the task faced. We can find this in authoritative writers like Juan de Mariana or Pascual Gayangos. All this categorising process leads us to view the notion of ideology as a feeble instrument compared to new concepts informed by cultural anthropology such as cultural philias and phobias.

7Gabriel Martinez-Gros

8from reinhart dozy to évariste lévi-provençal or from the age of révolutions to the age of islamology

9This article examines the broad lines of development of the French-language historiography on al-Andalus, commencing with the Histoire des musulmans d’Espagne by Reinhart Dozy (1861) and going up to the Histoire de l’Espagne musulmane by Evariste Lévi-Provençal (1950-1953). The analysis of the work of each of these two great specialists is presented alongside that of a contemporary author interested in the question of al-Andalus, thus highlighting the common ideas on the subject that can be identified respectively in the mid-19th century and in the mid-20th century: these are Albert de Circourt and his Histoire des Mores mudéjars et des morisques (1845) and Louis Bertrand and his Histoire d’Espagne (1932, re-edited in 1938). There is a clear division between the 19th-century writers (Circourt and Dozy), heirs of the Age of Enlightenment for whom history in all ages is driven by the same universal values of progress and humanity, whereby the Andalusies merit a positive judgement and the Berbers or their Spanish enemies a negative one, and the 20th-century writers (Lévi-Provençal and Bertrand), who are much more strongly influenced by the colonial experience and define Islam, its laws and its customs as a monolith unchanging through the centuries, whether welcoming this (Lévi-Provençal) or lamenting the impossibility of a «blending of races» (Bertrand) which Dozy saw as one of the great features of Andalusi history.

10María Jesús Viguera

11al-andalus and spain. on the essentialism of the beni codera

12The primordial interest of the «school of Spanish Arabists» subsequent to Francisco Codera (1836-1917), known as the Beni Codera, was the study of al-Andalus and its relations with Spain, in order to establish their respective identities in an essential connection, revealing the Hispanic component in al-Andalus and the Arab component in Spain. These interests focused the attention of Spanish arabists for almost a century until the 1970s, when all that changed and essentialist Hispano-Arab investigation gave way to other orientations founded on other generations, methods and sources. It is revealing to compare the contents of Al-Andalus (1933-1978), with its characteristic root subjects (the Andalusi origins of various Spanish aspects) and bridging subjects (Kharjas, Hispano-Arabic tales and proverbs, toponymy) and those of Al-Qanṭara, which came to the fore in the 1980s with different perspectives. Like all historiographic «schools», the Beni Codera had their moment, in this case the first three-quarters of the 20th century. And they had their domains, concentrated in the Escuela de Estudios Árabes and some Universities and Academies, but beyond these they succeeded —at all levels, from academic to popular— in focusing generalised attention on al-Andalus and achieved broad acceptance of the Hispano-Arabic dimension, temporarily dispelling suspicions. This forced harmonisation around the continuist concept of a «Muslim Spain» was the chief characteristic of the Beni Codera, who were moreover able to detect cultural transferences of major importance.

13Safia Boumahdi

14al-andalus in the works of henri pérès and henri terrasse (1932-1966)

15This article proposes an analysis of the principal works on al-Andalus published between 1932 and 1967 by two French arabists, Henri Pérès (1890-1983) and Henri Terrasse (1895-1971). The first was a specialist in Andalusi poetry and the second in Moroccan architecture and Hispano-Arab art. A careful reading of their publications shows that in many cases their discourse on art transcends the boundaries of the field of history and historiography. An examination of this discourse reveals an essentialist, continuist and nationalist interpretation of the history of al-Andalus, identical to the one propounded by Spanish arabists and historians in the same period. In the case of these two French arabists, this interpretation was further compounded by a colonial view of history: this is the fruit of an age when cultures were assessed —and not only in the field of orientalism— in terms of «superiority» and «inferiority». Their works reflect this ideology, which manifests itself in the form of constant value judgements, and their view of al-Andalus is coloured by the political, economic and cultural domination of East by West.

16Helena de Felipe

17studies on berbers in spanish historiography. arabism and africanism

18Studies on the Berbers only recently found room for themselves in Spanish universities, but that does not mean that there has been a total absence of literature on their history and culture. This article examines the historiographic trends that developed in Spain between the end of the 19th century and the first half of the 20th century, in particular the schools of Spanish arabists and Spanish africanists. The arabists, philologists devoted to the study of Arabic texts, placed greater value on areas other than the study of the Berbers, especially ones that highlighted the need for their discipline in constructing the history of Spain. There was thus little room in the study of al-Andalus —of things «Hispano-Arabic»— for «Berber» studies, the practitioners of which were africanists, largely devoted to highlighting the historical and cultural similarities between Iberians and Berbers in the context of colonial Morocco. By analysing the literature produced by both schools, we can gain an idea of the circumstances that influenced and circumscribed their areas of interest.

19Pascal Buresi

20al-andalus between east and west. inventing the origins

21How does one go about studying a province of an empire? That is the question that faces the historian of al-Andalus in the Almoravid and Almohad periods. Researchers working on al-Andalus have frequently confined their studies to the pre-national Peninsula, defining it in terms of a dual conflict: against «reconquering» Latin Christendom, and against the invading Berber tribes from the Maghrib. This approach may be legitimate for the times of the Emirates and the Caliphate, but it is much less appropriate for the period running from the end of the 11th century until the rise to power of the Nasrids. This communication reviews a number of «ethnicist» conclusions on the history of al-Andalus in the 11th-13th centuries, stressing the need to shift the focus towards the Maghrib, especially in the Almohad period, a time when Maghribi power sought to free itself from eastern political and religious models.

22Patrice Cressier

23archaeology of the islamic maghrib, archaeology of al-andalus, archaeology of spain?

24There is still a gulf between the archaeology of al-Andalus and that of the mediaeval Maghrib, which is all the less justified by the fact that for centuries the two shores of the Western Mediterranean have constituted a single political and cultural sphere. This article inquires into the historiographic reasons for this divide, on the basis of a triple sample of Spanish scientific output that has been considered representative of three successive phases in the history of this country in the 20th century: the articles and reviews published by L. Torres Balbás —one of the founders of the discipline— during the 1930s and 1940s, starting shortly before the Civil War and running through the decade that followed it; the initiatives of the institutions of the Protectorate in the 1950s —I Congreso arqueológico del Marruecos Español, the journal Tamuda, etc.— and lastly the post-decolonisation Congresos de arqueología medieval española of the 19980s and 1990s, when a democratic regime had been restored and a stable new territorial and political order installed. While the first two phases reflect respectively the collusion between the architects of a national history (Spanish) and the heralds of a colonial programme (French) and —immediately thereafter— the ambiguities of the Franco regime, the third is harder to interpret, coming as it does at a time when official policy tended to advocate closer North-South relations.

25Dolors Bramon

26al-andalus and the historiography of catalonia

27This article is the continuation of three earlier reviews on the state of studies on the Islamic past in the territory which today constitutes Catalonia, published by M. Barceló (1978 and 1988) and by me in 1991-1992. In these former years historians of Catalonia’s past unfortunately devoted little attention to this period owing to ignorance of the Arabic language and the scant number of arabists with the training and the ability to analyse its history, but we seem to have taken a major step forward since the mid-1990s. In this respect we would highlight the works of Balañà, Ballestín, Barceló, Bramon, Epalza, Eritja, Garcia Biosca, Kirchner, Sabaté, Sánchez Martínez, Sénac and Vernet in the field of political history. And also important are the advances brought by translations of historical (Bramon, Ballestín) or literary (Cinca, Castells, Epalza and Forcano) texts, and finally the various publications devoted to the teaching of Arabic (Al Kuwayfi, Calvo, Comes, Forcada, Puig, Rius and Torres).

28Fernando Branco Correia

29al-andalus in portuguese historiography (from the 19th century to the early 21st). a brief attempt at systematisation

30The way in which Portuguese arabists and historians grasped the importance of al-Andalus and incorporated it into their studies changed in the course of the 19th and 20th centuries. This article offers a personal view of how, from the 19th century to the present day, Portuguese historians and arabists have appraised the centuries of Arab presence in the Iberian Peninsula, and above all the influences that may have persisted in the western parts of the Peninsula. It also presents some of the historians and arabists who produced the most significant works and attracted the most disciples, some of whom betray influences of intellectuals and schools in culturally akin countries. Special emphasis is placed on the period beginning in the nineteen-seventies when following the end of the colonial period Portugal sought to identify its historical, linguistic and cultural roots. It was at this time that the universities evinced renewed interest in al-Andalus and the contemporary Arab and Islamic world, which was unfamiliar to many, while archaeologists unearthed material evidence of an «Arab» or «Moorish» past which yet survived in customs and legends.

31Pierre Guichard

32al-andalus viewed from valencia

33Before the 19th century the history of Valencia in the Muslim period, while not ignored or glossed over by writers like Escolano or Belda in the 17th century, was viewed merely as a backdrop to the Christian history of the city following its recovery by the Aragonese. While this history highlights specifically Valencian events (like the Cid), these are placed in the general scheme of a Hispanic history dominated —on the basis of dubious sources— first by the «loss of Spain» followed by the slow «recovery» of territory by the Christian dynasties. The early decades of the 19th century saw the emergence of some interest in Valencia’s Arab past, but above all in the question of the origins of the irrigation systems that characterised the region and without looking any further, as far as regional history was concerned, than the work of Conde, whose reliability has frequently been questioned. It was only in the last two decades of the 19th century that works began to appear which sought to elucidate the particular history of Valencia and its region in the Muslim period, thanks principally to Julián Ribera and later to Ambrosio Huici, who at the end of his life wrote a genuine history of Muslim Valencia. The period following the death of Huici in 1973, which coincided roughly with the immediate post-Franco years, was initially marked by fierce controversies over the language and culture of Valencia, and these controversies were indirectly linked to the region’s Muslim history.

34Manuela Marín

35two explorations of al-andalus as viewed by european orientalists. à propos of i. goldziher and a. r. nykl

36This article looks at the different conceptions of the history of al-Andalus held by two non-Spanish orientalists: Ignaz Goldziher (1850-1921) and Alois Richar Nykl (1885-1958). Although he had a close relationship with Miguel Asín Palacios, Goldziher published little about al-Andalus; however, in an article written in 1877 he expressed the view that Andalusi culture did not match the intellectual stature of the Islamic East, as the fusion of Arabas and Berbers in North Africa and the Iberian Peninsula failed to produce the same results as the fusion of Arabs and Persians. For his part, Nykl, who did look deeply into Andalusi literary history and entertained close relations with the Spanish arabists of the time, held the opposite view, inspired by Romantic postulates, of a paradisiacal al-Andalus where poetry was a natural phenomenon whose influence reached as far as the troubadours of Provence. The article concludes by noting how this second perspective has persisted up to the present day as part of a «myth of al-Andalus» that exerts enormous power in some spheres of public life.

37Eduardo Manzano Moreno

38«desde el sinaí de su arábiga erudición». a reflection on recent mediaeval and arab studies

39This article analyses the relations between mediaeval and Arab studies in Spain. Despite sharing a virtually identical time scale, the two disciplines followed quite divergent thematic and methodological paths throughout the last century. These divergences have very deep roots which can be traced back to differences recorded in the pre-Civil War period when the attempts to integrate the two disciplines in the Centre for Historical Studies came to nothing, partly due to the strongly conservative character of Spanish arabists. This article focuses in some detail on the controversy between Sánchez Albornoz and Lévi-Provençal, which undoubtedly epitomised tensions that had much to do with the secondary place that Spanish historiography had assigned to the Andalusi period. It also discusses the consequences that have ensued from this inter-disciplinary breach through to the present day and puts forward some ideas and arguments for a reconsideration of this situation —a highly necessary task in the light of social and political challenges that demand new ways of thinking about and writing history.

40Ana Echevarría Arsuaga

41umayyads of damascus, umayyads of cordoba. the fate of a dynasty in spanish mediaeval studies

42The contempt with which arabists once viewed the early period of al-Andalus, which they referred to as the «period of the Governors», has exerted a negative influence on the way that this question is treated by mediaevalists. This is true both within the framework of general perceptions of the History of Islam as exemplified in the study handbooks used in Spanish universities and as regards Spanish history proper, especially concerning the relationship between al-Andalus and the rest of the Islamic world. Starting from the premise that the Eastern Umayyads played a fundamental role in the history of al-Andalus through its conquest and early organisation as an Islamic territory, this article addresses the need to include it in the discourse of Spanish history. To that end it presents a formal and structural analysis of Spanish handbooks of Mediaeval History, highlighting their shortcomings regarding this subject and the reasons for these, before going on to look at the place of the Umayyads in Universal Mediaeval History as viewed from Spain and the methodological problems posed by the history of the Umayyads, caught half-way between mediaeval and Arab studies.

43Luis Molina

44the philological spirit. arab studies and their relationship with other disciplines

45Reflections on the relations between Philology within the sphere of Arab studies and other disciplines involved in the writing of History. The old accusation that the study of the history of the Muslim world was in the hands of arabists ignorant of historiographic methods and of historians who were unable to read documentary sources in Arabic long ago ceased to be valid, since the shortcomings attributable to the training of the members of both groups and the lack of communication between them have now been overcome to a great extent. Nonetheless, schools of thought have emerged which question the contribution that Philology can make to historical studies, which are expressed in the form of a certain contempt for written literary sources, particularly chronicles, and of the use of such sources by researchers who are not philologists and lack the training necessary to properly understand not only the text before them but also the literary, cultural and social context. The tendency to place less value on written than on material evidence has been reinforced in recent times by the incorporation to historical studies of a number of techniques originating in the experimental sciences, which are presented as offering technical precision, scientific rigour and absolute objectivity as opposed to the essayistic and ascientific nature attributed to the purely humanistic disciplines. This article presents some of examples of how inappropriate and irreflexive use of such instrumental techniques can lead to unacceptable results and discusses the difficulties that may arise in the exploitation of written documents when this is undertaken without due observance of the scientific and ethical requirements that have come to be known as the «philological spirit».

46Félix Retamero

47the long shadow of wittfogel. irrigation and power in al-andalus

48K. A. Wittfogel included al-Andalus in the group of societies in which the organisation of irrigation had been strongly centralised by a gigantic interventionist state. This elaboration on the old notion of «eastern despotism» has not, with a very few exceptions, prompted any explicit historiographic treatment of the possible connections between Andalusi society and a colossal power as Wittfogel understood it. To be sure, as the first part of this article shows, it is now long since Wittfogel’s view could be considered a generally valid hypothesis regarding relationships between agriculture and power. In any event, his description of a «despotic» state provides a good starting-point from which to review how, broadly speaking, the historiography has treated the relationship between irrigation and the Andalusi states. The central part of the article is an attempt to assess the extent to which the shadow of Wittfogel’s «eastern» giant, which is hardly ever identified as such in the writings reviewed and for which there is no empirical basis, has coloured and still colours that relationship. The article then goes on to show how, in the case of Andalusi colonisation of the Balearic Islands the ensuing agricultural organisation cannot be attributed to the overpowering direction of an omnipresent state. It argues that the formation of Andalusi society in the Balearics may be better understood in the context of a process of peasant migration. Finally, it raises a number of questions posed in Wittfogel’s work that ought to be addressed in the discussion of al-Andalus.

49Cyrille Aillet

50the «mozarabic» question. a historiographic balance and new approaches

51The «Mozarabic» problem has long lain at a crossroads in the historiography devoted to the mediaeval Iberian Peninsula. In fact the debate started back in the Middle Ages, for it was only when these people were disappearing from Muslim territory that western chroniclers began to wonder about their place in Latin Christendom. While Ximénez de Rada rejected them as part of Iberian history, 16th and 17th centuries writers invented the myth of the Mozarabs as a resistance to Islam and as symbolising a fossilised Spanish identity, both themes that later inspired Simonet. The critical balance offered by Mikel de Epalza then helped to break with the model of historical «continuism». However, by reducing the evolution of Andalusi Christianism to a process of inevitable decadence, Epalza glossed over the change in the 9th-10th centuries which produced the «Mozarabic» phenomenon, that is, an arabised Christian community. New research on the subject is furnishing material for discussion of the process of islamisation and the transition from late antiquity to the Caliphate period in al-Andalus, but also of the process of arabisation and the links between this minority and the northern Christian societies.

52Maribel Fierro

53al-andalus in spanish fascist thought. ignacio olagüe’s la revolución islámica en occidente

54In 2004 the Andalusian publisher Plurabelle reedited a book by Ignacio Olagüe entitled La revolución islámica en Occidente, which had been published in 1974 by the Fundación Juan March. The latter was an expanded version of a work first published in French in 1969 with the provocative title Les arabes n’ont jamais envahi l’Espagne (The Arabs never invaded Spain). The chief purpose of Olague’s book was to limit any «extraneous» intervention in the history of Spain as far as possible, and to that end he invented a primal autochthonous Islam which owed nothing (or at least very little) to outside intervention. This is, then, another variant of a long-standing tendency, namely the Hispanisation of things Arabic. This article analyses the impact of Olagüe’s work in certain Andalusian nationalist circles and among Spanish converts to Islam; it also traces precedents for his position through a long tradition back to the Jesuit Juan Andrés (18th century) and Olagüe’s connections with the thinking of the Spanish fascist Ramiro Ledesma Ramos.

55Bruna Soravia

56Al-Andalus in the Multiculturalist Mirror. The Myth of Coexistence in some Recent North American Essays

57The Andalusi chronotope achieved a notable degree of popularity in the 19th and 20th centuries both in Arab and Jewish intellectual circles, as symbolising the yearned-after homeland of two exiled peoples, and in Spanish nationalist historiography, which saw in this the first inkling of a Hispanic consciousness. This article examines the construction of the utopia of al-Andalus as home to a pluralistic society that was tolerant in its religious, linguistic and cultural diversity, propounded today by some North American specialists in the sphere of comparative studies. Rooted in the same anti-historical and anti-philological approach characterising post-modernist method, it extends to the thesis of expansion of Andalusi civilisation in Romance Europe and its decisive influence on the development of European literature —another old and oft-invoked thesis inadequately supported by evidence. Analysing numerous writings from this academic sphere, we suggest that this is a new example of the use of al-Andalus for anachronistic purposes, in which the strict rules of research into cultural history are set aside, leading scholars into the much broader and more turbulent field of controversies, concerns and aspirations that trouble the contemporary American political scene and society.

© Casa de Velázquez, 2009

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