UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Ambassadors of the Albayzín : Moroccan vendors of La Caldereria in Granada, Spain Hicks, Elisabeth


The Lonely Planet advises visitors to Granada, Spain to "turn off...into the cobbled alleys of Calderería Vieja or Nueva and in a few steps you've left Europe behind." La Calderería is known for its Arab influences and North African immigrant businesses. A tourist's ability to easily step off one continent and enter another realm demonstrates an imagined border between Europe and the Orient, especially North Africa, that is created by historical narratives, policy discourses and daily practices. The antagonism between an imagined white, Catholic and European Spain vis-à-vis its North African Muslim neighbors is fundamental to the history of the Spanish nation. This East/West divide has recently been recast as Moroccan immigration, inspired by proximity and colonial legacies, since the 1980s has made Moroccan the largest immigrant group by nationality in Spain. Supranational borders, neighborhoods and specific streets participate in an intense debate about cultural difference, based on a complicated mixture of racial, ethnic and religious categories. Concurrently, more regional autonomy within the Spanish state has led Andalusia to reclaim its Islamic heritage, especially in Granada where tourism is important economically. This has dovetailed with gentrification of the Albayzín. Both the appropriation of the Islamic period of Iberian history and the contemporary social exclusion of Moroccan immigrants are realized through Orientalism. In La Calderería, tea, souvenirs, male Moroccan vendors, Western female tourists, pavement, cultural conservation, public space ordinances and police surveillance create a site where public and private space blurs and ‘practical orientalism’ constitutes subjects performing and resisting the identities prescribed to them.

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