Feeling Bad about Emotional History The Case of Andalucismo

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Alejandro García-Sanjuán

Abstract

This article presents a critical review of The Feeling of History, a recent work by the American anthropologist Charles Hirschkind. In this book, the author treats Andalucismo, a political movement that arose in modern Andalusia early in the twentieth century and was chiefly characterized by an extremely positive view of the Islamic Iberian past (al-Andalus)—a tendency that is certainly unusual in Spain and goes against the prevalent Spanish nationalism. In his book, Hirschkind not only develops an uncritical view of Andalucismo and its intrinsically emotional reading of the past but also legitimizes a rather farfetched conflation of modern Andalusia and al-Andalus. Moreover, he offers an extremely shallow and unnuanced reading of current Spanish scholarship on the Middle Ages, branding it wholesale as an heir to Francoism. He also lends legitimacy to those who call into question the origin of al-Andalus in the Islamic conquest of 711 CE—representatives of an unscholarly approach that has been largely dismissed by academic outlets since the 1970s. Burdened by heavy ideological prejudices and hampered by the author’s limited knowledge of the most recent academic historiographic debates in the field of Iberian medieval studies, the book represents a failed attempt to present the Anglophone readership with a consistent introduction to Andalusian nationalism together with a critical appraisal of the Andalusian nationalist interpretation of the medieval Iberian past.

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Review Essays