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We Are All Moors

Ending Centuries of Crusades against Muslims and Other Minorities

2012
Author:

Anouar Majid

We Are All Moors

An alternate history of xenophobia and how we must overcome it together

In We Are All Moors, Anouar Majid contends that the acrimonious debates about immigration and Islam in the West are the cultural legacy of the conflict between Christians and Moors. Offering a groundbreaking new history, Majid explores how “the Moor” has served as an unacknowledged but potent metaphor for all minority peoples in the West, endlessly reincarnated by the majority.

We Are All Moors excited me for its implications. The range is superb and reading it is a pleasure—Anouar Majid dances across continents, taking a thread and seeing what comes of it. It reminds us of histories long forgotten, and provides a useful way to look back to help understand the present.

Vijay Prashad, author of The Darker Nations: A People’s History of the Third World

In 1609 King Philip III ordered the expulsion of all Moriscos—Spaniards of Muslim descent—from Spain in an ongoing attempt to establish a homogeneous state and remove the last vestiges of Islam from his nation. Four centuries later, Spain and Europe are once again outraged by the presence of Islam within their borders, and, for many, the millions of Muslim immigrants now living there pose a fundamental challenge to European identity. Across the Atlantic Ocean, the vast Hispanic community in the United States, both legal and illegal, has raised similar fears. Exacerbated by globalization and 9/11, these nativist, anti-Islamic, and broadly anti-immigrant attitudes fatally undermine meaningful dialogue and progress essential to creating a more peaceful and just world.

In We Are All Moors, Anouar Majid contends that the acrimonious debates about immigration and Islam in the West are the cultural legacy of the conflict between Christians and Moors. Offering a groundbreaking new history of the West’s perception and treatment of minority cultures, Majid explores how “the Moor” emerged as the archetypal Other against which Europe would define itself. The characteristics attributed to this quintessential minority—racial inferiority, religious impurity, cultural incompatibility—would be reapplied to other non-European and non-Christian peoples: Native Americans, black Africans, Jews, and minority immigrant communities, among others.

The Moor, Majid reveals, has served as an unacknowledged but potent metaphor for all minority peoples in the West, endlessly reincarnated by the majority. Only by recognizing the connections between current fears about immigration and Islam and medieval Christianity’s crusade against the Moor, he argues, can we begin to redress centuries of oppression, learn from the tragedies of the past, and find common ground in a globalized world.

We Are All Moors

Anouar Majid is author of A Call for Heresy: Why Dissent is Vital to Islam and America (Minnesota, 2007). He is professor of English and director of the Center for Global Humanities at the University of New England in Maine.

We Are All Moors

We Are All Moors excited me for its implications. The range is superb and reading it is a pleasure—Anouar Majid dances across continents, taking a thread and seeing what comes of it. It reminds us of histories long forgotten, and provides a useful way to look back to help understand the present.

Vijay Prashad, author of The Darker Nations: A People’s History of the Third World

Majid draws much-needed comparisons between events leading to atrocities like the Spanish Inquisition and present attitudes and trends, including growing disdain for Muslims in Europe and Hispanics in the U.S. Further, he shows how nations are strengthened by the acceptance and integration of the foreign (as is the trend, following initial xenophobic fits, in the U.S.), while cultural expulsion and/or cleansing hurts people and states (as in Germany's post-WWII ‘occupation and dismemberment’). With this intriguing historical analysis, Majid sounds a clear warning against the West's latest slide toward cultural scapegoating.

Publishers Weekly

An alternative history of European xenophobia that will stimulate and provoke readers across the political spectrum. This work will generate criticism and conversation; it will be taken up by intellectual reading clubs as well as graduate seminars and should be made available to all academic audiences as well as informed readers.

Library Journal

Majid’s book is a magnificent discussion of critical issues. . . . It is an important find for the most uninformed to the most sophisticated reader.

Choice

By offering a brilliant and scintillating examination of how the identity of ‘Moor’ served the Western imagination of enemies for centuries, the book provides a critical history of xenophobia and the persecution of minorities in Europe and America.

Borderlands

Majid writes eloquently as he searches for counter-histories that reveal communion (particularly between Muslims and Jews) instead of conflict... We Are All Moors is worth reading.

Journal of American Ethnic History

Majid’s skill as a story teller is matched by his dogged pursuit of information that finds nuance rather than fodder for making arguments. He does not set out to defend Islam or the West, but rather sees in the ideals of the enlightenment and the inspiration of America’s founding fathers a beacon of hope that Muslims, Christians, Jews, members of other religions and atheists can share despite their disagreements.

Contemporary Islam

We Are All Moors

Contents


Preface

Introduction: Specters of the Moor

1. Pious Cruelty

2. New World Moors

3. Muslim Jews

4. Undesirable Aliens: Hispanics in America, Muslims in Europe

Conclusion: We Are All Moors


Notes
Index