Changing Cultural Conceptions of the National: Facing up to the Challenges of Contemporary Migration in Spain and Portugal

Thursday, 1 November 2012 (All day) - Sunday, 4 November 2012 (All day)
University of Mainz

Iker Barbero speaks at this year's conference on 'Changing Cultural Conceptions of the National: Facing up to the Challenges of Contemporary Migration in Spain and Portugal' held at the University of Mainz on 1-4 November 2012. He presents his paper on 'Historia contemporánea de la alteridad en el Derecho de extranjería español' on Saturday 3 November.

For more information, please see the event webpage of the University of Mainz.


Within only a few decades, cultural diversity has become a reality in the Iberian Peninsula and resulted
in a radical change in the cultural understanding of the concept of the ‘national’. A national preoccupa-
tion with preserving their Christian unity and purity characterized Spain and Portugal for centuries - from
the time of their emergence as nations during the medieval process of the Reconquista (the reconquest
of the Moorish-Islamic settlements in the Iberian territories by the Christians, combined with the expul-
sion of the Jews) to their democratic transition in the years 1974 and 1975.

This idea of a special national character was also a feature of the colonization of the New World and of
the Portuguese colonial rule in Africa and has become deeply ingrained in the discourses of both states
in the form of specific national myths. From the eighties onwards, a new chapter began for these states
with the immigration of people from Eastern Europe, the Maghreb, Africa and Latin America. The arrival
of immigrants intensified notably, post millennium, and changed Portugal and Spain from countries of
emigration to countries of immigration.

At present, there are very special dynamics in this process that are influencing practices common to the
everyday life of both countries, affecting the strategies employed in cultural translation and transforming
the countries national self-images.

The international conference provides an opportunity for reflection on the ways in which concepts of the
nation and national are currently undergoing change in Spain and Portugal in the context of current
global developments, particularly the influx of migrants. This new reality requires us to re-examine the
historically evolved exclusive ideas and myths inherent in discourses of the national, to look at how the-
se are interpreted and re-written, and to search for buried points of contact and new strategies that will
enable the adoption of a freer, more open-minded and inclusive sense of identity. These processes of
remodulation are currently underway in Spain and Portugal. The aim of the conference, therefore, is to
document intermediate results, identify current trends and developments, and to propose possible ideas
that may ease the way to more successful coexistence in an environment of cultural diversity in the
years to come.

Learn more about: Orientalising citizens

Oecumene: Citizenship after Orientalism is funded by an European Research Council (ERC) Advanced Grant (Institutions, values, beliefs and behaviour ERC-AG-SH2).

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