A MUSLIM FIFTH COLUMN: MORISCO RELIGION AND THE PERFORMANCE OF IDENTITY IN SIXTEENTH CENTURY SPAIN
At the beginning of the sixteenth century, the Muslims of the newly conquered territory of Granada rebelled against their Catholic Castilian and Aragonese masters. The Muslims of Granada were subsequently given the choice of expulsion or conversion, with many choosing to remain and convert to Catholicism. Beginning with these initial conversions, the question of Morisco Muslim-ness is one that has historians for years. For many scholars, Morisco religiosity represents a form of syncretic
... n that blends both the Catholic and the Muslim in specific instantiations of religious practice. For others, the Moriscos represent a crypto-Islamic community that practiced a form of taqiyya, or the Islamic practice allowing Muslims to conceal their religious affiliation under duress or the threat of death. What these analyses fail to take into account is the performative aspects of Morisco religious practice at the boundaries of Catholicism and Islam. This dissertation intends to look at Moriscos as a suspect community from the perspective of the Spanish state, but also from the vantage point of the Moriscos themselves, who attempted to navigate the boundaries of Catholicism as articulated in legislation, polemical texts, and inquisitorial trials, while framing their religious practice in terms of cultural preservation. Similarly, this dissertation will examine the methods employed by the Moriscos in their performance of an oppositional Muslim identity set in direct contrast to a developing Spanish nationalism. Performance here is being employed to investigate how Moriscos, who represented a "fifth column" for the nascent Spanish state, constructed fluid identities that fluctuated in response to the socio-cultural and/or political context.