Frontier Hybridization or Culture Clash? Transnational Migrant Communities and Sub-national Identity Politics in Andalusia, Spain (Working Paper #35)

Gunter Dietz, Center for Comparative Immigration Studies

Introduction: As part of a larger project on the role played by local civil society and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in the design and implementation of specific integration policies for migrant communities in the southern Spanish region of Andalusia 1, in this paper the support activities the Andalusian voluntary associations and NGOs have been realizing for the last years in the domain of non-EU immigration are analyzed in the context of increasing xenophobic and muslimophobic tendencies observable inside Andalusian society. Currently, these recently emerging muslimophobic movements, which tend to combine narrowly localist and Spanish nationalist identity horizons with an emphasis on Catholicism as a decisive “ethnic marker” of Spanish-ness, are being countered by Andalusian regionalist strategies of muslimophilia, which claim that a “return of Islam” and/or the pluri-religious legacy of Al-Andalus will empower the region’s ongoing search of a supra-local, but sub-national and non-Castilian common identity.

As a point of departure, in the following the dilemma of the currently predominant dualized identity theories is sketched and dimensions for a comparative analysis of processes of migrant as well as non-migrant identity construction are briefly presented. Building upon these dimensions, the specific context and problematics of migrant community formation is illustrated for the Andalusian region, which is then contrasted with the “identity politics” of the non-migrant Andalusian host society and its struggle for increasing and stabilizing regional autonomy inside the Spanish state. The subsequent, contemporary ethnization of intercultural conflicts resulting from native versus migrant identity politics in Andalusia is illustrated with the emergence of muslimophobic and muslimophilic movements inside the region. Finally, the increasingly important role of Andalusian NGOs as intercultural mediators and spaces of cultural hybridization is analyzed with regard to its political and societal as well as theoretical consequences for the study of identity politics.

Working Paper #35»