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Reclaiming al-Andalus

Orientalist Scholarship and Spanish Nationalism, 1875–1919

In the Series
Studies in Spanish History

Pablo Bornstein received his PhD at the Zvi Yavetz School of Historical Studies at Tel Aviv University, where he also studied his MA in Middle Eastern History. His research interests focus on Spanish historians before the Spanish Civil War. He is particularly attentive to the relationship between historiography and nationalism. Dr Bornstein is currently working on a comparative study of the conceptualization of the Muslim and Jewish past in Spain during the first half of the 20th century.

Reclaiming al-Andalus focuses on the construction of the scholarly discipline of Orientalist studies in Spain. Special attention is paid to the impact that the elaboration of a series of historical interpretations of the legacy left by Muslim and Jewish culture in Spain had over the writing of national history in the period of the Bourbon Restoration. A historiographical account of Spain’s Orientalism tackles the problematized issues that both Arabist and Hebraist scholars sought to address. Orientalist scholarship thereby became inextricably linked to different interpretations of the historical shaping of Spanish national identity. Political circumstances of the day impacted on the approach these scholars took as they engaged with the Iberian Semitic past. And this at a critical moment in the crystallization of modern Spanish nationalism.

A common thread running through the work of these Orientalist scholars was the tendency to nationalize or “Hispanicize” cultural activity of the Semitic populations that lived on the Iberian Peninsula in medieval times. This Hispanizication was instrumentalized in diverse ways in order to serve nation-building efforts. Hence Orientalist scholarship became integrated into the national debates that were shaping Spanish cultural and political life at the turn of the century. Reclaiming al-Andalus explains how regenerationist projects taking form after the national crisis of 1898, and different polemical discussions around religion-state affairs, deeply influenced the writings of academic Orientalism. The intertwined connection between Orientalist scholarship and nationalist debates in Spain has hitherto been understudied. This book not only contributes to the general debate on modern Orientalism, but most importantly presents a profound new viewpoint to the ongoing debate on the conflictive history of Spanish nationalism.

Hardback ISBN: 978-1-78976-060-6
Hardback Price: £75.00 / $89.95
Release Date: February 2021
Page Extent / Format: 272 pp. 229 x 152 mm
Illustrated: No


List of Abbreviations


Chapter 1 – The Weight of the Past: The Semitic Shadow over Christian Spain
"Restoring" Christian Spain – The Suppression of the Semitic
Vindicating the Legacy of al-Andalus – The Cultural Turn of Eighteenth-Century Historiography and the Emergence of Liberal Arabism
The Consolidation of the Discipline

Chapter 2 – In the Service of the Bible: Orientalism and Catholic Science During the Early Bourbon Restoration
Affirming the Catholic Identity of Spain – The Bourbon Restoration
Between Modern Scholarship and the Sacred History of the Bible – The Philological Studies
In Defense of Catholic Science – The Polemic over the Spanish Scientific Tradition

Chapter 3 – The "Positivist" Turn: Francisco Codera's Agenda for the "External History" of al-Andalus
Setting the Foundations for a Positivist Arabist Scholarship
The Professionalization of History – Orientalism and the Bulletin of the Royal Academy of History(BRAH)
Approaching the Public – The Bibliotheca Arabico-hispana

Chapter 4 – Orientalism and the Efforts to Modernize Spanish Scholarship in the Early Restoration
Looking at the Maghreb from al-Andalus – Arabist Scholars and the Africanist Colonial Discourse
An Oriental Hybridity - Race, Ethnicity and Cultural Exchanges
The First Inroads into "Internal History" – al-Andalus and the Wider Muslim World

Chapter 5 – The Transnational Dimension of Spanish Orientalism
Between Admiration and Disdain - The Portrayal of the Jews and the Debate on the Inquisition in the BRAH
The Internationalization of Spanish Orientalism
Defending Religion on Scientific Grounds
Updating the Agenda of Codera

Chapter 6 – Historiography as the Common Ground: The Arabists' Contribution to the Shaping of Spanish Regenerationism After 1898
Generational Change and Prospects for Reform
Regaining National Confidence: Arabism and Regenerationism
Is History a Science? The Debate on Historiography

Chapter 7 – Shaping Public Opinion: The Arabists and the Post-1898 Social Scenario
Unmasking the "Alchemists": Julián Ribera's Thoughts on the Pedagogical Question and the Colonial Project in Morocco After 1898
New Arabist Forums: the Drop of Arabist Themes at the BRAH

Chapter 8 – Transcending the Master: The Study of the Philosophy of al-Andalus
The Burgeoning of Codera's "Arabist School" and the Encouragement of Menéndez Pelayo
Spain as the Center of the Philosophical Exchanges between Religions
The Tribute to Codera

Chapter 9 – A Solid Reputation: The Height of Spanish Orientalism
An Arabist Priest - Asín's Scholarship and Catholic Science
Moving Up in the Official Institutions
The Breakthroughs: Ribera and Asín's Lectures at the Royal Academies



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