Contemporary history of alterity in Spanish immigration law

Authors: 
Iker Barbero
Publication date: 
June 2014
Publication type: 
Journal article

Spain is one of the few countries in the European Union where Islam has had a historical role in the social and cultural construction of its identity. However, its modern history is marked by acts of repudiation of non-Christian cultures. Opinion polls indicate that certain groups of migrants from North Africa, Latin America and Eastern Europe, but mainly Muslims, are considered to be incompatible with the popular conception of Spanish identity. The reason for this perception is related to the social construction of the migrant as the 'other to govern' by political, academic and media discourses. The aim of this paper is to demonstrate that immigration law also plays a fundamental role in this strategy of 'orientalization', i.e. the attribution of certain qualities to migrant groups (illegal, antisocial, criminal, unassimilable, terrorist), the aim of which is to legitimize the selective control of immigration. While meeting the guidelines provided by European authorities, the Spanish immigration and citizenship regime contributes to the construction of otherness, and therefore, to the political and legal (re)definition of what 'being Spanish' means.

Published in Spanish in the Journal of political studies, N. 164 (April-June 2014), pp. 115-150.

Revista de Estudios Políticos (nueva época) ISSN: 0048-7694, Núm. 164, Madrid, abril-junio (2014), págs. 115-150

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