Rhetorical Conflicts: Civilizational Discourse and the Contested Patrimonies of Spain's Festivals of Moors and Christians

David Shefferman
2014 Religions  
The title of this essay identifies a series of verbal scuffles-or "rhetorical conflicts"-that developed in the fall of 2006 within Spain's larger culture wars. The political skirmishes coalesced around an announcement by the Popular Party (PP) to champion a class of regional festivals for U.N. designation as indispensible elements of "human patrimony." The war of words stemmed from the PP's politicization of cultural designations, but the celebrations in question-the fiestas of Moors and
more » ... ans common in the south of Valencia region-already generated controversy since they display "rhetorical conflicts" of a different sort: In potentially offensive fashion, the festivals present carnivalesque re-enactments of battles in the medieval "Reconquest" of Iberia by Christian armies over Islamic "Moors." The essay situates these entangled controversies in the broader context of waves of immigration that have accompanied, or even fueled, a trans-Atlantic discourse centered on notions of a geopolitical "clash of civilizations" between Islam and the West. Accordingly, the debates about the Moors and Christians festivals-like the celebrations themselves-reveal deep ambivalence about the role of Islam and of Muslims in Spain's past and present.
doi:10.3390/rel5010126 fatcat:6nz76xe4zndn3pfs4mi32rxf3a