The Mem­o­ry Work of Jew­ish Spain

Daniela Flesler and Adrián Pérez Melgosa

January 12, 2021

The 2015 law grant­i­ng Span­ish nation­al­i­ty to the descen­dants of Jews expelled in 1492 is the lat­est exam­ple of a wide­spread phe­nom­e­non in con­tem­po­rary Spain, the re-dis­cov­ery” of its Jew­ish heritage.
In The Mem­o­ry Work of Jew­ish Spain, Daniela Flesler and Adrián Pérez Mel­go­sa exam­ine the impli­ca­tions of reclaim­ing this mem­o­ry through the analy­sis of a com­pre­hen­sive range of emerg­ing cul­tur­al prac­tices, polit­i­cal ini­tia­tives and insti­tu­tions in the con­text of the long his­to­ry of Spain’s ambiva­lence towards its Jew­ish past. 
Through oral inter­views, analy­ses of muse­ums, new­ly recon­fig­ured Jew­ish quar­ters,” exca­vat­ed Jew­ish sites, pop­u­lar fes­ti­vals, tourist brochures, lit­er­a­ture and art, The Mem­o­ry Work of Jew­ish Spain explores what hap­pens when these ini­tia­tives are imple­ment­ed at the local lev­el in cities and towns through­out Spain, and how they affect Spain’s present.

Discussion Questions

In their well-writ­ten and acces­si­ble study The Mem­o­ry Work of Jew­ish Spain, Daniela Flesler and Adrián Pérez Mel­go­sa explore the polit­i­cal, cul­tur­al, and insti­tu­tion­al process­es, prac­tices, and ini­tia­tives under­way in Spain in recent years as the coun­try comes to terms with its Jew­ish past and the lin­ger­ing ambiva­lence about it in the present. Set in the con­text of the 2015 Span­ish law that offered cit­i­zen­ship to Sephardic Jews and their descen­dants across the globe, this mul­ti­dis­ci­pli­nary study cov­ers some famil­iar his­tor­i­cal ter­rain, such as the ear­ly twen­ti­eth cen­tu­ry philosephardic cam­paign of Span­ish sen­a­tor Angel Puli­do. But the book is most valu­able in offer­ing a fresh con­tem­po­rary prism, enriched by oral his­to­ries, that high­light a series of muse­um projects, arche­o­log­i­cal under­tak­ings, tourism endeav­ors, and lit­er­ary and artis­tic rep­re­sen­ta­tions that add new dimen­sions to press­ing schol­ar­ly and pub­lic debate over the ten­sions and con­tra­dic­tions inher­ent in Spain’s efforts to make sense of its Jew­ish past and present.