A Look at Moroccan Immigration in Spain from a Literary Perspective
by Nasima Akaloo (Universidad Carlos III de Madrid, Spain)
This paper approaches Moroccan immigration in Spain using a hybrid, border/ frontier literature as explained by Homi Bhabha and Nieves García Benito respectively. It maps Spain’s reaction towards this migrant population taking into account the long and conflicting Arab presence in the Peninsula as well as the ambivalent, often negative and paternalistic attitude towards Morocco, stemming principally from the period of the Spanish Protectorate (1912-1956 roughly). It also considers Spain´s recent past of emigration (there were about seven million emigrants who left Spain in the twentieth century) and draws several parallels between the treatment meted out to Spanish emigrants in Europe and the attitude adopted by Spain towards its own immigrants in recent times, especially those from the Magreb, which constitute the largest migrant group.
The profile of the emigrant/ immigrant, the circumstances which push him to migrate, the travails and deceptions experienced while waiting or planning, the illegal, corrupt world which feeds on the desperation and vulnerability of the individual, the illusory, idealistic representations of Europe as the Promised Land etc. are all briefly treated as a preamble to the encounter between the emigrant and the local.
I have chosen to focus primarily on the illegal side of immigration mainly through “pateras”, underlining firmly the challenges and dangers of this approach in view of the media and political attention this phenomenon has received in recent times. I have therefore highlighted its misuse and manipulation by authors and have sought to question the posture and intentionality of the writer when treating this sensitive issue whose reality has been practically eclipsed by the media and other sources alike. Comparing the elements of the “literature de patera” from both sides- Moroccan and Spanish- and relying on comments by authors and researchers such as Marco Kunz and Juan Goytisolo, I have sought to show as well that the Spanish representation of the immigrant is seen more as a critique of the Spanish society than as a “true” reflection of the immigrant´s posture and plight. Continue reading