The Mestizos of Ceuta; Marriage, Mixing & the Blurring of Ethnoreligious Boundaries
Ibtisam Sadegh (University of Amsterdam)
Paper short abstract:
This paper explores how problematized interfaith couples in Ceuta reproduce the dominant norms despite being exceptions, whilst their children who self-identify as 'mestizos', displace rigid ideas of homogeneity and blur the ethnoreligious boundaries produced by the local discourse of 'convivencia.'
Paper long abstract:
Despite repeated requests by the Moroccan government for Spain to transfer its sovereignty, Ceuta continues to fall under Spanish jurisdiction. As an enclave across the straits of Gibraltar, Ceuta is a zone of intense confrontation yet also of peaceful quotidian (co)existence. The city has a dense heterogeneous population composed among others of Christians, Muslims, and smaller numbers of Hindus and Jews. The Ceutan government propagates a heritization discourse of 'convivencia' which promotes and celebrates the diverse local ethno-religious groups living peacefully together, and their mixing. Today the concept permeates Ceuta's political, economic and social life; even used as a shorthand code to describe the environment which magically bridges the obvious socio-economic and spatial divides. Whereas the ideal of convivencia is generally aspired to by Ceutans, marriages crossing ethnic and religious boundaries are in practice frowned upon. Drawing on the everyday experiences of interfaith couples and their children, this paper investigates the everyday experiences, expressions, contestations and creation of convivencia. Based on fourteen months of ethnographic fieldwork, the paper explores how interfaith couples who transgress, defy, and complicate such socio-cultural, legal and political boundaries, are problematized. It then explores how such couples nevertheless reproduce the dominant norms regarding the problematization of such mixing, and this, despite being 'exceptions', whilst their children self-identifying as 'mestizos' further displace the rigid ideas of homogeneity. In so doing, this paper interrogates the notions of 'interfaith' and 'mixedness' and contributes to the broader ethnographic literature on convivencia and mixed intimate relationships and marriages.
Moving across racialised boundaries - settling in mixedness? Dialogues in critical mixedness studies [Anthropology of Race and Ethnicity Network]