SOAS University of London

Centre for Cultural, Literary and Postcolonial Studies (CCLPS)

'There is No Victor But God': The Colonial Afterlife of a Medieval Granadan Motto

eric calderwood book cover CCLPS IMG 485 186 56

Date: 12 June 2018Time: 3:10 PM

Finishes: 12 June 2018Time: 5:00 PM

Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings Room: 4426

Type of Event: Seminar


"There is No Victor But God: The Colonial Afterlife of a Medieval Granadan Motto."

This talk will be drawn from Calderwood’s recently published book, Colonial al-Andalus: Spain and the Making of Modern Moroccan Culture (Harvard University Press, 2018).  Grounded in nearly a decade of research in Spain and North Africa, Colonial al-Andalus explores the culture, politics, and legacies of Spanish colonialism in Morocco (1859-1956).  It traces the genealogy of a widespread idea about Morocco: namely, the idea that modern Moroccan culture descends directly from al-Andalus.  This idea is pervasive in contemporary Moroccan historiography, literature, and political discourse.  Colonial al-Andalus argues that Morocco’s Andalusi identity is not a medieval legacy, but is, instead, a modern invention that emerged from the colonial encounter between Spain and Morocco in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

In this presentation, Calderwood will trace one strand of his book’s story: the surprising afterlife of a motto from medieval Muslim Granada in Spanish colonial culture and Moroccan nationalist culture.  By examining various modern and multilingual uses of this medieval motto, Calderwood will show how the modern memory of al-Andalus stands at the ambiguous intersection of competing ideological projects.


Eric Calderwood is the author of Colonial al-Andalus: Spain and the Making of Modern Moroccan Culture (Harvard University Press, April 2018).  He is an Assistant Professor of Comparative Literature and Arabic at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he also holds faculty appointments in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese, the Center for South Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, the Program in Medieval Studies, the Unit for Criticism and Interpretive Theory, and the Program in Jewish Culture and Society.  He received his Ph.D. from Harvard University in 2011.  His research explores modern Mediterranean culture, with a particular emphasis on Spanish and North African literature and film.  In addition to his recent book on Morocco, he has published articles in such journals as PMLA, Journal of Spanish Cultural Studies, and International Journal of Middle East Studies.  He has also contributed essays and commentary to such venues as NPR, the BBC, Foreign Policy, and The American Scholar.


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