In 2003 a mosque was inaugurated in Granada, overcoming opposition voiced by neighbors, officials, and cultural institutions during two decades of heated debate. At issue was the meaning of the mosque within the contexts of local, regional, national, and global history. Current, large-scale immigration of North African Muslims stands clearly in the background. There was, however, a prior movement of conversion to Islam by young Spanish Christians in and around Granada at the end of the Franco dictatorship. These neo-Muslims conceived and built the Great Mosque of Granada, whose architectural design and decoration mobilize contested historical and cultural narratives. The mosque poses the fraught ideological issues in terms of what will be visible (or invisible) and to whom. The site of the mosque at the summit of the Albayzín hill, facing the Alhambra, has been the crux of entangled visualities. The mosque is not only an object of the gaze but also a privileged subject position for the gaze, in rivalry with the Christian gaze from the adjacent Church of San Nicolás and its mirador. The new mosque is a key to the transformation of the discourse of Spain’s relation to its Muslim past into debate about its Muslim present.
Muqarnas Online – Brill
Published: Aug 27, 2015
Keywords: Great Mosque of Granada ; minaret ; subject/object ; gaze ; Alhambra ; Albayzín ; UNESCO World Heritage Site ; mirador of San Nicolás ; European mosques ; memory-site ; cultural patrimony ; neo-Muslims
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