Accepted Paper:

Sephardim in modern Spain: between nationalism, antisemitism y and philosephardism  


Maite Ojeda-Mata (Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona)

Paper short abstract:

This paper is an anthropological-historical analysis of the process of the construction of a tragically ambivalent definition of Sephardim in modern Spain and its consequences for Sephardim in Spain and occupied Europe during World War II.

Paper long abstract:

From the middle of the 19th century Sephardim where increasingly thought as a cultural-historical "mix" of Jews and Spaniards in modern Spain. The construction of this ambivalent identity instead of favouring the reintegration of Sephardim to the successor state of the kingdoms from where their ancestors where expelled in 1492, in fact emphasized and reified the supposedly original, distinct and separate identities, "Spanish" and "Jewish". The consequence was that while a discourse of political inclusion developed, in fact Sephardim were never accepted as full citizens in Modern Spain. That had tragic consequences for those Sephardim that had enjoyed a pseudo-citizenship status from the middle of the 19th century at the outbreak of World War II, when Nazi Germany initiated the systematic extermination of European Jews. When those pseudo-Spanish citizens where in need for full protection from the state they thought they where members, Francoist Spain rejected to allow them to cross the geopolitical border to enter Spain to prevent those who "after all" where Jews to pollute the catholic purity of his ideal Spanish nation. Nazi Germany probably deported most of those abandoned by Spain to extermination camps, where they were murdered. In the refugee chaos provoked by the war in Europe, Francoist Spain also developed a silent policy of expulsion of Jews already living in Spain, among them Sephardim, from Spanish soil.

Panel W063
Migrations: of borders, crossings and ambivalent identities