Entangled Gazes: The Polysemy of the New Great Mosque of Granada

In: Muqarnas Online

In 2003 a mosque was inaugurated in Granada, overcoming opposition voiced by neighbors, officials, and cultural institutions during two decades of heated debate. At issue was the meaning of the mosque within the contexts of local, regional, national, and global history. Current, large-scale immigration of North African Muslims stands clearly in the background. There was, however, a prior movement of conversion to Islam by young Spanish Christians in and around Granada at the end of the Franco dictatorship. These neo-Muslims conceived and built the Great Mosque of Granada, whose architectural design and decoration mobilize contested historical and cultural narratives. The mosque poses the fraught ideological issues in terms of what will be visible (or invisible) and to whom. The site of the mosque at the summit of the Albayzín hill, facing the Alhambra, has been the crux of entangled visualities. The mosque is not only an object of the gaze but also a privileged subject position for the gaze, in rivalry with the Christian gaze from the adjacent Church of San Nicolás and its mirador. The new mosque is a key to the transformation of the discourse of Spain’s relation to its Muslim past into debate about its Muslim present. 


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    Jorge Trías Sagnier“Una mezquita inquietante,” ABC July 14 2003 http://www.abc.es/hemeroteca/historico-14-07-2003/abc/Opinion/una-mezquita-inquietante_194722.html# (accessed July 12 2012).

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    Álvaro Calleja“Granada inaugura la mayor mezquita de Europa cinco siglos después de la expulsión musulmana,” ABCNovember 7 2003 http://www.abc.es/hemeroteca/historico-11-07-2003/abc/Sociedad/granada-inaugura-la-mayor-mezquita-de-europa-cinco-siglos-despues-de-la-expulsion-musulmana_194025.html (accessed July 12 2012).

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    Nebahat Avcıoğlu“Identity-as-Form: The Mosque in the West,” Cultural Analysis 6 (2007): 97. Avcıoğlu’s incisive contribution also serves as a critical introduction to the vast body of scholarship on mosques built in Europe and the United States in the twentieth century and into the present. For an overview of several new mosques built in Spain see Jennifer Roberson “Visions of al-Andalus in Twentieth-Century Spanish Mosque Architecture” in Revisiting al-Andalus: Perspectives on the Material Culture of Islamic Iberia and Beyonded. Glaire D. Anderson and Miriam Rosser-Owen (Leiden: Brill 2007) 247–69. Roberson includes a brief discussion of the Great Mosque of Granada (262–69).

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    Gil Anidjar“Futures of al-Andalus,” Journal of Spanish Cultural Studies 7 3 (2006): 225–29.

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    Joaquín Bosque MaurelGeografía urbana de Granada (Granada: Universidad de Granada, 1988), 78, cited in Francisco Javier Rosón Lorente, “¿El Retorno de Tariq?: Comunidades etnoreligiosas en al Albayzín granadino” (PhD diss., Departamento de Antropología Social, Universidad de Granada, Granada, 2008), 128, http://biblioteca.ugr.es (accessed August 52012).

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    Rafael Garófano SánchezLa Andalucía del Siglo XIX en las Fotografías de J. Laurent y Cía (Almeria: Junta de Andalucía1999) no. 86.

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    Rosón Lorente“¿El Retorno de Tariq?” 403.

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    Julio César Cabrera Medina“El turismo en el Albaicín,” in El Albaicín en la encrucijadaed. Juan Carlos de Pablos (Granada: Universidad del a Granada2005) 196–222esp. 199.

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    Juan Carlos de Pablos“El uso residencial del Albaicín,” in El Albaicín en la encrucijadaed. Juan Carlos de Pablos 72–124 esp. 123. Among recent studies on various aspects of Albayzín’s urbanism the topics addressed in El Albaicín en la encrucijada are of special interest for my article. It should be noted however that the impact of the neo-Muslim and Muslim communities is mentioned only in passing in the analysis of the neighborhood’s economy—the businesses in the Calderería that cater mainly to tourists. Although the edited volume was published in 2005 it is a result of a project by the sociologists of the University of Granada that was undertaken in 2000 while the mosque was still under construction.

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    Mikaela Rogozen-Soltar“Al-Andalus in Andalusia; Negotiating Moorish History and Regional Identity in Southern Spain,” Anthropological Quarterly 80 3 (Summer 2007): 863–86. On the festivals of Moros y Cristianos (Moors and Christians) in Valencia Andalusia and Castilla-La Mancha see for instance Daniela Flesler and Adrián Pérez Melgosa “Battles of Identity or Playing ‘Guest’ and ‘Host’: The Festivals of Moors and Christians in the Context of Moroccan Immigration in Spain” Journal of Spanish Cultural Studies 4 2 (2003): 151–68; Roland Baumann The “Moors and Christians” of Valor: Folklore and Conflict in the Alpujarra (Andalusia) (Ann Arbor Mich.: UMI 1995); Henk Driessen “Mock Battles between Moors and Christians: Playing the Confrontation of Crescent with Cross in Spain’s South” Ethnologia Europaea 15 2 (1985): 105–15.

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    Daniela Flesler“Contemporary Moroccan Immigration and Its Ghosts,” in In the Light of Medieval Spained. Doubleday and Coleman 116. In addition to this article the following is also especially insightful: Daniela Flesler The Return of the Moor: Spanish Responses to Contemporary Moroccan Immigration (West Lafayette Ind.: Purdue University Press 2008).

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    Abend“Spain’s New Muslims” 134.

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    Abend“Spain’s New Muslims” 138–39 148.

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    Ibid.142.

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    Rosón Lorente“¿El Retorno de Tariq?,”75–98.

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    Abend“Spain’s New Muslims” 143–45; Rosón Lorente “¿El Retorno de Tariq?” 365–66.

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    Rosón Lorente“¿El Retorno de Tariq?” 333–42 351–64.

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    Rosón Lorente“¿El Retorno de Tariq?” 384–87.

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    Castiñeira“La comunidad musulmana de Granada.” See also Rosón Lorente “¿El Retorno de Tariq?” 351–64 393–98; Coleman “Persistence of the Past” 163–75.

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  • 52

    Abdennur Prado“Sobre la Situacion Jurídica del Islam en España,” May 19, 2005, www.webislam.com/noticias/43786-sobre_la_situacion_juridica_del_islam_en_espana.html (accessed June 27, 2012). For the implications of Spain’s federal law with regard to the Muslim minority (Acuerdo de Cooperación entre el Estado Español y la Comisión islámica de España), promulgated as Law 26/92 on November 10, 1992, and other government initiatives, see Ricardo Zapata-Barrero, “The Muslim Community and Spanish Tradition: Maurophobia as a Fact, and Impartiality as a Desideratum,” in Multiculturalism Muslims and Citizenship: A European Approached. Tariq Modood Anna Triandafyllidou and Ricardo Zapata-Barrero (London: Routledge2006) 143–61.

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  • 53

    Abend“Spain’s New Muslims” 133.

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    Pierre Nora“Preface to the English-Language Edition,” in Realms of Memory: Rethinking the French Pasted. Pierre Nora (New York: Columbia University Press 1996) 1:xvii.

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    Castilla Brazales and Orihuela UzalEn busca de la Granada47–49.

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    For a summary see Rosón Lorente“¿El Retorno de Tariq?” 479–80.

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    Morgan“1992: Memories and Modernities” 61–62.

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    August 10 1993quoted in Rosón Lorente “¿El Retorno de Tariq?” 408. For a more complete history of the litigation mobilized by the Asociación de Vecinos del Albayzín against the construction of the mosque see ibid. 402–22.

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    Castelló NicásLa renovación urbana121–23.

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    Ibid.122.

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    M. Antequera“El Albayzín se cristianiza,” Ideal September 20 1936 10 quoted in Castelló Nicás La renovación urbana 122–23. Stone crosses were placed in front of other churches in the Albayzín (San Gregorio Alto San Cristóbal de la Victoria San Ildefonso) as well as in small public plazas among them Cruz de Quirós Cruz de la Rauda and Cruz de Piedra. Juan Manuel Barrios Rozúa Guía de la Granada desaparecida (Granada: Editorial Comares 1999).

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  • 94

    Coleman“Persistence of the Past” 171.

  • 109

    Beebe Bahrami“A Door to Paradise,” City and Society 10 1 (1998): 127–28. On the politics of the collective memory of the Moriscos see Mary Elizabeth Perry “Memory and Mutilation: The Case of the Moriscos” in In the Light of Medieval Spain ed. Doubleday and Coleman 67–90.

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  • 110

    Aidi“Interference of al-Andalus” 76. Aidi quotes Muhammad ibn Azuz Hakim a Moroccan historian who traced more than seven thousand surnames of Andalusi origin in Tetuan alone. For an analysis of Andalusian identity among the descendants of the Moriscos in Rabat see Beebe Bahrami “Al-Andalus and Memory: The Past and Being Present among Hispano-Moroccan Andalusians from Rabat” in Charting Memory: Recalling Medieval Spain ed. Stacey N. Beckwith (New York: Garland Publishing 2000) 111–43.

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  • 111

    Quoted in Bahrami“Door to Paradise” 127.

  • 112

    Anidjar“Futures of al-Andalus” 228.

  • 113

    Quoted in Rosón Lorente“¿El Retorno de Tariq?,”75.

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