By L. Dotson-Renta
Via readings of postcolonial thought and exam of post-9/11 novels, movie, and hip-hop tune, this booklet reviews how North African immigrants to Spain translate and move cultural and political reminiscence from one land to a different.
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Additional resources for Immigration, Popular Culture, and the Re-routing of European Muslim Identity
Memory, Return, and the “Other Side” ● 37 Indeed, El Hachmi understands that her son will likely consider himself Catalan but worries that his skin tone will nevertheless betray him as an outsider in a society where she herself is not always fully accepted. The protagonist decides that she will attempt to give her son the best of both worlds, immersing him in the Amazigh language during his early years and “arming” him to one day find his own cultural path. Interestingly, El Hachmi finds herself in a cycle of circularity between “here” (her present-day life in Spain) and “there,” the life she left behind in Morocco, one that has receded but not disappeared from her consciousness.
If the model of translation presented by Annie Brisset is transferred to the idea of traslado, Rachid Nini’s text emerges as one that portrays and manages a series of urban and ethnic codes: “Translation is a dual act of communication. ’ The fact that the two codes are not isomorphic creates obstacles for the translative operation” (337). The act of translation, much like the traslado, implies moving between two destinations or codes that may not directly correspond to each other. In his travels through the subspaces of the urban environment, his interpretations of cityscapes, and his identity games, the protagonist in “El diario de un emigrante clandestino” provides this vision of contemporaneous recognition and defamiliarization.
Spain’s “problem” is no longer its own; it is now Europe’s problem. As a consequence of becoming part of the EU, Spain has become part of the route of immigration as 44 ● Immigration, Popular Culture, and European Muslim Identity well. It is constantly reminded that its borders are no longer simply Spanish, but European, and thereby a gateway. Partir does not hesitate to engage with topics of heated deliberation in current European policy debates. By touching upon how Spain’s more recent Moroccan immigration has simultaneously pulled the two countries together (opening a flow of human transit that was essentially closed during the Franco regime) and drawn them apart (in light of Spain’s push to become part of the European Union and given the economic disparity between Spain and Morocco), Tahar Ben Jelloun opens the door to discussing how, when, and why a number of migrants are being recruited by those preaching extreme interpretations of Islamic beliefs.