Writing on Al-Andalus in the Modern Islamic World

Authored by: Christina Civantos

The Routledge Handbook Of Muslim Iberia

Print publication date:  April  2020
Online publication date:  April  2020

Print ISBN: 9781138649149
eBook ISBN: 9781315625959
Adobe ISBN:


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References to the period of medieval Muslim rule in Iberia (al-Andalus) are prominent in twentieth- and twenty-first-century works from the Arabo-Maghrebian world written in Arabic and French and, to a lesser extent, in works from South Asia written in Urdu and English and works in various languages from the Arab and South Asian diasporas. While many of the texts from the Arabic-speaking world portray al-Andalus nostalgically, in support of pan-Arab, nationalist, and/or pan-Islamic ideologies, other texts use elements of the Andalusi imaginary to critique contemporary postcolonial language and identity politics or to offer counter-narratives, questioning the foundations of this imaginary and its role in identity formation. Similarly, many of the South Asian works that draw from al-Andalus use it to delineate a Muslim identity that is at home in the multicultural Indian subcontinent. Some of the writers that offer alternate discourses about the legacy of al-Andalus point to the constructed nature of al-Andalus as a narrative. This essay outlines key characteristics of traditional versions of the story of al-Andalus and demonstrates how twentieth- and twenty-first-century texts are contesting and transforming these authoritative versions of the Andalusi past and the very foundations of conceptions of self and other.

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