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Volume 5.2 1997
ISSN 1048-3721
This page was last updated on 03/15/99



Liliana Suárez-Navaz

One of the main puzzles facing the analyst of the contemporary world is to explain why, as Harvey puts it, "the elaboration of place-bound identities has become more rather than less important in a world of diminishing spatial barriers to exchange, movement and communication."1 The unification of the European Community stands as an important example of the paradox identified by Harvey. On the one hand, the fifteen EU countries have almost completed the creation of a supranational space characterized by a unique market with internal free circulation of goods, services, capital, and people. Simultaneously, on the other hand, there is a strong revival of nationalist and localist ideologies, which are sometimes at the basis of the new racist movements against recent migrants and already established "cultural minorities." The construction of a new European transnational space involves a transformation of the ideological space around the new category of "European citizenship," a blurry concept with no clear content. There are indeed multiple competing definitions today of what it means to be European. It may refer to a pan- European sentiment with a clear ethnic content—Europeans as peoples sharing a common history and culture—or to a more limited idea, namely, the set of rights and duties of any European citizen. In any case, "Europe" is not by any means an established entity but an ongoing project that involves complex ideological, social, and economic processes, for which there is not a clear outcome yet.

The processes involved in the construction of the material and symbolic European space are even more complex if considered from the perspective of the Mediterranean European periphery, whose countries joined in the European project only ten years ago. Andalusia, like regions of other southern European countries that joined the EC in the mid-’80s, has experienced a political and economic shift that is bringing about a redefinition of the symbolic spaces by which the notions of community and belonging are represented. My interest in this paper is to understand the ethnicization of social relations in this Spanish southern province as an example of the way national and global transformations, such as the EU, interact with local idioms in the process of making sense of the new circumstances. I will analyze the western Mediterranean space and, specifically, the experience of northern and western Africans in Spain as an example of how new ethnicities are being produced in a dialectic relation between (1) the overpowerful role of the state in determining who is a citizen and (2) the state’s weakness in actually keeping control over the people living in the national territory, due to its transnational interdependency and to massive transnational population movements.

The process of redefinition of national and ethnic identities in Spain can only be understood within the broader context of the western Mediterranean imagined space, shaped by the opposing dynamics of rising borders and increasing border crossings characteristic of global interdependent capitalism. I will illustrate this process with reference to its effects at the local level, based on fieldwork data collected since 1992 in the Andalusian province of Granada.2 In order to grasp how new discourses and practices are informing the current Spanish transition from an emigration to an immigration country, I collected material from official sources, conducted interviews with members of both governmental and nongovernmental institutions, and with many immigrants working in the area (coming mostly from Morocco and Senegal), as well as extensive participant observation of the interaction between immigrants and the local population. I will show the complex, sometimes contradictory processes involved in the redefinition of western Mediterranean borders, one of the crucial arenas in which European identity is forged.

The structure of this paper is as follows. In the first section, I briefly discuss the geographical and historical scenario within which the current production of ethnic identities in Spain should be framed; the goal of this section is to warn the reader against an all too common essentialization of ethnic identities (Arab Muslim vs. European Christian) and against stereotypes of North Africans and Andalusians, both peoples of the Mediterranean intensively anthropologized and romanticized. In the second section I focus on the role of hegemonic discourses in the production of a new "imagined community" presented as culturally and socially incompatible with that of immigrants.3 Official governmental policy documents on immigration and the mass media are taken as representative of these hegemonic discourses. The third section deals with the main lines of the political economy of Mediterranean rebordering, such as migration law and the labor market, emphasizing the way the Alien Law, with its strict difference between legal and "illegal" immigrants,4 conjures up new inner borders in precarious economic sectors already shaped by another kind of "illegal" practice, the informal economy that pervades peripheral European countries. The fourth and main section illustrates the daily processes by which people in rural Andalusia make sense of the new axes along which social identity and difference are being constructed: citizenship and ethnicity. I will show how ethnic and legal inner borders become dominant media through which relations of inequality are structured in a complex panorama shaped by class identity and geographical competition among regions in the new global order. The concluding section provides a counterpoint to hegemonic discourses by describing some of the alternative discourses and practices that resist the dominant discourse by problematizing the state’s definition of citizenship and its invisible ethnic content, and the way they incorporate a new European frame that draws from recent Andalusian experiences and a certain vision of the "South."


My approach to ethnic conflict in Andalusia is informed by a reconsideration of the spatial framework of reference in the recent literature on migration and ethnic relations in Spain. Although I acknowledge that any territorial boundaries are somewhat artificial, my delimitation of "western Mediterranean" as an integrated area of study for the analysis of ethnic conflict has two main purposes. On the one hand, I want to emphasize the historical connection and mutual influences between peoples on both shores: the Mediterranean, rather than a barrier, has always been a bridge.5 On the other hand, I want to avoid the strong tendency to reify the concept of "Europe" as a constituted, non-problematic cultural entity; instead, I will consider "Europe" as a dominant ideal image, which participates in a historical project that does not yet have a pre-established outcome.6

Since the first part of the century, the immigrants in Europe came from the Mediterranean: Moroccans, Algerians, Spaniards, Portuguese, Italians.7 Until recently, Spain shared with North Africa in sending laborers as guest-workers to northern Europe. As a Spanish association abroad put it, there has been a common "culture of emigration" to richer areas, built in the context of geopolitical and economic dependence and defined in relation to specific political and administrative traditions.8 Only a few decades ago the Spanish government favored emigration both through policy and institutional support. In addition to the creation of the Institute of Emigration, there was a pro-emigration discourse that lasted until the mid-’70s:

emigration is a field of open possibilities for the free individual and, at the same time, a strong source of links and relations to other peoples, which can be beneficial at the socio-economic level ... not only for the family who emigrates but for both their country of origin and the receiving country.9


There is plenty of evidence however, that shows how both Moroccans and Spaniards—many of them Andalusians—who emigrated to northern European countries during the ’60s and ’70s, resented their stigmatization in the guest countries as poor, ignorant, and "different" southerners.10

This very recent common identity as emigrants, and as stigmatized outsiders, proved to be a major factor in the construction of identities in the Andalusian village of Alfaya where I was working, shaping the relationship between Spanish ex-emigrants who returned from "Europe," and the Moroccan emigrants who today work in this Spanish village, now part of an extended Europe. Almost half of Alfaya’s villagers left Andalusia to work in France, Germany, Switzerland, and Belgium, countries that were considered European in contrast to Spain; even today it is common among villagers to consider the so-called "moors" as culturally closer to them than northern Europeans.11 The European frontier before 1986 was drawn in the Pyrenees, where French border controls scrutinized Spanish and Moroccan workers alike as immigrants from the "South." Andalusian identity was symbolically opposed to Europe’s identity and to that of other rich regions of Spain such as Catalonia.12 Thus, the border between the North and the South was also drawn within the Spanish territory. As John Berger puts it in his already classic book The Seventh Man:

At one point he [sic] crossed the frontier. This may or may not have coincided with the geographical frontier of his country. It isn’t the geographical frontier that counts: the frontier is simply where he is able to be stopped and his intention to leave thwarted.13


Andalusians think of themselves as people from the "South," imagined as a backward social, economic, and political area in which exploitation and poverty encompassed almost everybody in the past and which is in a disadvantaged situation in relation to other areas of Spain and, of course, Europe. Knowing this, Rashib, a Moroccan worker in Alfaya, referred to the common emigration to the "former" Europe of both Spanish and Moroccan people very different from the current relation between the two peoples:

When I was working in France with my sister, our neighbor was from Almería [Granada’s neighbor province, one of the eight that make up the region of Andalusia]. Actually, most people in that French district are from Spanish or Moroccan background, and they all live together, because they are all the same. This family from Almería is actually very close to my family over there.... Here, it is so different; people that were starving just one decade ago are now rejecting us, because we are moros (moors). Who can understand this?


The answer to his question is that the Mediterranean social space and the identities of its people are being reshaped by new borders. Moreover, Andalusia is not a homogeneous space, but one in which different, sometimes conflicting cultural and economic traditions coexist. The new "European identity" (and citizenship) can be perceived as a reward for Spain’s successful economic growth and political transition, but at the same time as an artificial entity that disempowers people’s cultures and autonomy. Andalusians see new immigrants as similar to themselves, in that many of them also had to cross borders in order to survive, but also as disruptive enemies, cheap labor that threatens the weak economic stability in the region. As it always did, the Mediterranean acts as a fluctuating line of encounters and clashes.


Spain has experienced progressive economic growth and a transition to a democratic regime during the past decades, which have consolidated political and socioeconomic rights for Spanish citizens.14 Spain was until very recently a country of emigrants, but it now has become an immigration country. Both stages have responded to the needs of global capitalism for a mobile labor force, to favor accumulation and profit, but Spain’s location in the international division of the labor market has been dramatically transformed. As a consequence, new alignments of national and supranational borders have emerged in the northern margin of the sea, through Andalusia and the Levant of the Iberian peninsula, marking the new limits of both Spain and Europe, and of course, of the first world. The positioning of the border is legitimized in dominant discourses in terms of sociocultural, political, and economic homogeneity with Europe, as well as racial/ethnic unity defined in symbolic opposition to the "other."

This homogeneity is being constructed through nationalistic discourses appealing to a purportedly national common interest in the rebordering of the Mediterranean.15 The document "Basic Lines of the Spanish Migration Policy" is exemplary of Spanish government discourse on "the problem of immigration." Here the government claims, "National interest as well as the imposed obligations derived from our membership in the EEC require us to take measures to articulate a rigorous control at the [southern] border."16 The reason why national interest "forces us" to reject a very specific group of "unwanted" immigrants from the southern Mediterranean shore, is phrased in this document in cultural and ethnic terms:

Spanish migration policy has to be an active one. This means to direct immigration according to the interest of the state, taking into account the origin, temporality, professional profile, integration ability.... [Migrants from] less developed countries often produce many integration problems, because they come from countries with very different social habits.17


Dominant discourse plays a major part in the construction of a space in which ethnic difference is seen as disruptive and threatening. The Spanish inclusion in the group of developed capitalist countries is creating both symbolic and material borders with a third world characterized in the dominant discourse by economic inequalities, high levels of poverty, and unstable political situations, which allegedly "promote" extremist social behavior. This characterization of southern immigrants allows dominant discourse to take a further step in the creation of an alarmist image of the recent arrivals, by the essential linkage between "illegal" immigrants and the increase of violence within the national borders. The government and other politicians in Spain use crime statistics to further enforce the legitimization of the state’s use of force: "given the marginality and illegality of clandestine immigration, an increase of delinquency has been proven."18

A final ‘threatening’ characteristic of the people from the southern shore is a demographic one. Here we have the idea of an old Europe—or better, of old, white Europeans—unable to control the growth of underdeveloped countries. A high official of the Civil Government in Barcelona says that "in the next 20 years around 25 million of emigrants from North Africa will unquestionably try to find jobs in Europe."19 Again an alarmist tone is used to stir up old fears of a silent invasion of the Iberian Peninsula.

Similarly, in our analysis of the newspaper El País,20 we detected a consistent propensity to represent immigrants as a "problem," because their illegality, their poverty, and their purported criminality. The reader is invited to articulate her/his own identity as opposed to that of the immigrant by way of symbolic inversion. Spaniards thus would become those who legally live and work in Spain, those who have access to public benefits, those who have houses, and who are controllable. The press takes for granted that the "normal" and "rational" behavior for Spanish citizens is to safeguard their personal and "national" interests, which are represented in opposition to those of immigrants. The objective of this discourse of "normalization" is to make sense of the dominant perception that immigrants are an obstacle to regular development of social and economic relations. Thus, "irrational" reactions, such as racism and xenophobia, are explained as a necessary, though unfortunate, outcome of Spanish evolution.

Thus, immigration is "naturalized" through concepts that equate movements of population with ethnically and economically limited groups and that represent these ‘groups’ as a threat to Spain’s well-being and security. As a corollary, ethnic confrontation is perceived as an illness or "cancer" of society. Interestingly enough, the state, which is in part responsible for enforcing an ethnicization of Spanish society through its discourse and practices, receives additional legitimization by purporting to provide a "remedy" for this "disease," namely, a modern and efficient legislative apparatus. Let us see now some crucial transformations at the legal and socioeconomic level that inform the construction of new ethnicities before we deal with the contradictory way they are perceived and acted upon at the local level.


The redefinition of the Spanish border and identity has been accompanied by a change in Spain’s location in the international labor market and by the enactment in 1985 of the first complete and coherent legislation on foreigners’ status in Spain, the new "Alien Law" [Ley Orgánica de Extranjería, LOE].21 The law was enacted through urgent parliamentary procedure in order to "remedy the legislative chaos produced by the heterogeneity and dispersion of norms" related to the foreign population in Spain, and to restrict the entry of third world immigrants who were traditionally welcomed in Spain, especially from North Africa and Latin America.22 The creation of a secure southern European frontier through the LOE can be considered as a precondition for Spain’s incorporation in 1986 into a European space without inner frontiers, even though this reason is not clearly phrased in the Parliamentary discussions.23 Instead, the emphasis of the parliamentary discussion fell on the "intolerable situations" produced by the absence of coherent legislation on the foreign population.24 This alarmist tone does not conform with the modest attention paid by public opinion to the African and Latin American immigrants who were progressively settling in Spain, as I will show later in the study case of Granada.25 It is not until the first years of the ’90s that mass media, experts, and politicians bring "immigrants" to the fore, specially after the consolidation of the Straits of Gibraltar as a new Río Bravo, where immigrants almost daily risked their lives to enter Europe.

The Spanish legal framework for immigration is derivative of northern European post-fordist political and legal restrictions to assisted immigration, dating from the mid-’70s, and it should be viewed in the context of the construction of a common European space able to compete in the new global economy. In addition to the closing of frontiers, European nation-states developed a myriad of administrative regulations to curtail full membership of the already established minorities, creating a growing population with limited rights. The LOE reproduces this model of citizenship that creates a hierarchy of legal statuses within the European frontiers, from the full citizen who holds full social and political rights, to the intermediary status of denizens that excludes aliens from full membership, to the exclusionary category of "illegals."26 Especially important to our interest here is its "administrative character": security forces and the administration are in charge of establishing the conditions for entry, stay, work, and departure of foreigners with only an a posteriori and partial intervention of the Courts. A lawyer working very closely with undocumented workers describes the consequences of the administrative character of the law as follows:

those immigrants do not have a single right in Spain. The law anticipates any circumstance. Basically, the message is that if you are ‘illegal,’ the state has only one responsibility: to deport you, without any chance to appeal such action in court.27


The LOE makes a strong distinction between legal and "illegal" foreigners, equating the latter with delinquents. Even though the stated objective of the state is "to protect the legal rights and juridical guarantees of the legal foreigner in Spain," the law has not been a success in providing minimum legal protection to most third world immigrants. The main reason is the link established by the law between the stay/work permits and the needs of the national labor market, as well as discriminatory practices in granting visas to people coming from third world countries.28 Given the fact that most third world immigrants had either crossed illegally the southern frontier or stayed in the country once their visas were expired, they were categorized as "illegal." The available estimates on "illegal" immigrants before 1990 ranged between 172,000 and 366,500, most of them belonging to poor countries.29 Aware of this situation, the government offered an amnesty program in 1991 regularizing the situation of 108,000 undocumented foreigners coming from Africa (almost 60,000), Latin America (29,000), and Asia (9,000).30 Even though this program was a relative success, undocumented status is still pervasive among third world immigrants, given the strict conditions established by the LOE to renew the temporary stay/work permits, which require a legal contract, the payment of the required taxes by both employer and employee, and the lack of unemployment among nationals in the sector in which the immigrant is working. As a consequence of this, the government offered another amnesty program in the spring of 1996 that is currently in progress and thought to affect 70,000 third world immigrants.

The distinction between "legal" and "illegal" immigrants, defined by the law, pervades daily life as well as institutional programs for immigrants’ integration. The strict division along legal criteria is not as clear in practice as it is in theory, given the slowness and inefficiency of the Spanish administration in solving pending cases and the contradictions among different state offices involved in the process. An ethnographic approach to the immigrant population prevents one from falling into the false dichotomy created by the Alien Law: there are not just legal and "illegal" aliens, but a myriad of legal situations in the middle of these two extremes.31 Integration into the informal economy, with its potential for discrimination does not apply only to "illegal" immigrants. Even those who are able to obtain a work permit are often illegally hired; more importantly, the work permits that are granted are mostly in sectors of the economy such as services and agriculture with high incidence of nonregistered participation. Besides, because the work permits are temporary, many immigrants continue their activities in these sectors until the renewal is granted—which often takes another year—now as "illegal" workers.32 In Granada, for instance, almost half of the Senegalese community is "illegal" or is waiting for the institutions’ response to their applications for stay and work permits.33

The most important reason for the high incidence of undocumented status among third world immigrants is their location in the already polarized social structure and the precariousness of a very important sector of the Spanish population. The informal economy has not been created nor dramatically increased by immigrants; a study ordered by the government in 1985 estimated that one out of four active Spaniards worked in the informal economy.34 Immigrants, then, are simply adding to this structural tendency. In addition, Spain has the highest rate of unemployment of Europe, a rate that increases in specific economic sectors and regions such as Andalusia where up to 34 percent of the active population is unemployed or underemployed in the underground economy. However, the differentiation between legal and "illegal" status in relation to citizenship rights is having important consequences in drawing ethnic lines between migrants and native populations. An interview I had with a director of a long established urban informal enterprise illustrates a common justification for discriminatory hiring policies:

I do not hire any foreigner, and it is not that I am racist, just realistic. You see, we move many millions [of pesetas] every month here, and they show up nowhere; the administration would be happy to get all the taxes from our work, and a foreigner is more likely to denounce it if caught by the police. Besides, they are too unstable..., I cannot afford people leaving without returning the merchandise. Spanish people generally have an address where you can ask for the person. If you want to find immigrants, you can just go to x; they really exploit these people to the fullest. We do not do that, and our staff is more permanent (3-4 months to years).


The fact is that third world immigrants, either legal or "illegal," become a source of suspicion; the police stop them frequently for identification,35 and thus they are seen by national workers involved in the informal economy as a potential threat for their security or their profit. This ethnic discrimination can be especially acute in regions and/or economic sectors with a high incidence of informal practices, as in the case of rural Andalusia. In Alfaya the "illegality" of many day laborers during harvest time, when they are most needed, is considered one of the principal problems by local authorities, who have complained about the way the LOE is sometimes applied in the village. The ethnic and legal borders conjured up by the Alien Law should not be taken for granted in a society highly pervaded by "black" money, economic vulnerability, and a high degree of informality towards the state. People involved in the informal economy cannot legally hire workers, and they prefer highly dependent and manageable people, who are not so interested in the social benefits guaranteed by labor legislation. Undocumented workers accept these jobs without asking for contracts, minimum salaries, or health care benefits. The presence of third world immigrants is thus used by the state indirectly to control autochthonous informal behaviors in highly vulnerable economic sectors, in such a way that peasants and employers involved in informal economy have become during these years the most efficient agents of Alien Law.

In fact the effect of the law in the restructuring of collective identities and social spaces is based not only on the explicit regulatory and punitive action of the law, but also and most importantly in the disciplinary techniques and self-regulation processes that this distinction between legality and illegality is producing in civil society.36 Thus, the symbolic as well as the regulative action of the LOE is creating internal borders among the people living in Spain, based on a restricted notion of citizenship that indirectly requires potential citizens to have a high economic level. The group of immigrants that do not have the ideal level and origin are condemned to join the ranks of the informal economy and to be subject to permanent persecution by the police or by other social actors who see their invisibility threatened by immigrants’ presence.


The rebordering of the Mediterranean should be analyzed in the context of major global socioeconomic transformations, such as the progressive unification of the EC and the changing role of nation-states in an interdependent economy. The effect of these transformations in daily life and local notions of "imagined communities" is a slow and complex process that should be explored "through the many different social locations in which the categories [of inclusion and of exclusion] are actually used and struggled over."37 The case of the village of Alfaya enables me to question essentialist notions of social and cultural identity implicitly held in many studies of immigration situated in core European countries. Andalusian peasants have been situated traditionally at the margins of society to the extreme that "they have felt as foreigners in their land," and that "they have been treated as persons only after having abandoned their villages."38 In the making of a "modern," "European-style" state and society, the Spanish government’s legitimacy depends on its ability to guarantee social rights and to provide equal opportunities to all its citizens, including those from poor regions such as Andalusia and marginal economic sectors such as agriculture. The new category "citizen" in Spain should not be left unquestioned; instead, we should investigate the process by which it is given sense at the local level. Similarly, the content and use of ethnic and cultural categories should be understood in the context of the shifting national and supranational frontiers in the western Mediterranean and Europe.

As discussed above, Alfaya’s villagers like those of many other Andalusian villages, experienced a forced emigration in the ’60s and ’70s to France, Germany, or Switzerland where they worked together with Moroccan and other Mediterranean peoples. Today, new irrigation projects spurred by Spain’s insertion into the EC have brought them back home and attracted Moroccans to Alfaya to work. The "economic miracle" of Alfaya is perceived at the local level as a result of their own efforts, a consequence of peasants’ innovating techniques, getting the most from the microclimate that favors intensive horticultural production in a very competitive situation. Similarly, the permanence of the Communist Party in local government since the first democratic municipal elections in 1979 is reported by many as a grassroots movement that incorporated the interests and needs of all villagers, most of whom were formerly marginalized from decision-making institutions as "ignorant peasants." The arrival of African immigrants in the ’90s, despite their small number, has produced in the village a disproportionate concern and public attention. The reason for this is that African immigrants have been the "other" against which peasants are redefining their location in the Spanish social structure, their notion of belonging to an "imagined community," and their ideological principles about people’s rights and status, along new criteria of European citizenship and ethnicity or culture. In this section I illustrate some of the ways in which this process is taking place by analyzing the effects of this transformation in both villagers and immigrants, focusing on the struggle to define local belonging and exclusion.

The first African immigrants who arrived in the village found it easy to connect with villagers, as one of them told me:

People in Alfaya were very open then [1987], the first day I arrived I met R., E.L., P., [several people from the village] ... they invited me to a drink and I told them about my country and they told me about the tomatoes and lettuces and the political struggle of the village to keep intermediaries out. I spend three days here selling my stuff in the market and they told me there was plenty of work here. I decided to try because I liked the village from the beginning. I stayed under the chestnut tree, but after a couple of days E. offered me a place to sleep through the father of P. Everybody was very good here, very common people, all of them Communist....39


Assane was introduced into a group of young people, had a girlfriend, and lived with a couple of families. Afterwards he participated in a cooperative movement promoted by a group of young villagers and felt really integrated in the village’s networks. He describes the experience in the following terms:

We had this project, it was a commune, where all of us participated equally, we cultivated tomatoes and lettuces, and then we had a lot of meetings and we also had fun. They used to say that everything was going to change ... [one of the members] told us about what was going on in Nicaragua, and also about the need to unite us all in order to achieve a just society.


It was 1989 and Assane had lived openly in Alfaya and the neighboring village where the cooperative was set for almost two years; there were no inquiries or pressure from police despite the fact that he did not have any permit to stay and work in Spain. During this time, he was learning a new way to talk about justice and rights, a new discourse that enabled him to communicate better with allies and to resist marginalization in Europe. By the end of that year, however, he was stopped by the police and required to identify himself. Villagers began to know about foreigners’ "illegality" through his case. Resistance to this categorization was strong from the beginning:

The Civil Guard told me that I did not have a proper visa to stay and that I had to go with him to Granada so I couldn’t escape. ‘You are going to sleep in jail, boy,’ he told me, ‘because you are illegal.’ That really annoyed me ... then I told him, ‘I am legal, because I haven’t stolen anything, I haven’t killed anybody, I haven’t done anything wrong, I’m just working in an honest way. I am not a drug dealer, I work on the land, with tomatoes and lettuces ... I am legal. An "illegal" can be Spanish or black, it’s somebody who has done something wrong. I am black, but I am legal.’40


Almost everybody in the village supported him, but a group of people from the commune worked especially hard for his case: there were hunger strikes, demonstrations, TV and radio interviews. Due to the imminent expulsion, the village council assembled the councilors in an meeting where they named Assane as "adoptive son" of the village, thus symbolically circumventing requirements for legal residence. The case was well known in Andalusia and Spain. People who managed this case asked for a work/stay permit "because he is just struggling, together with other people, to get a job," and "because justice is a right for all citizens of the world."41

This case was finally won. Assane was granted his permit and continued working in Alfaya and Granada, sometimes in the countryside other times as a street seller. After the first year the permit expired, but he managed to stay in the country either as a legal worker, when he was lucky to get a contract, or as an illegal foreigner, always careful to elude the police. Slowly more and more Africans came to the village, most of them in the same situation as Assane, at the border of legality. Many came right after crossing the Gibraltar strait, the 14 kilometers of water that divide Spain from Morocco. Soon there were more than one hundred Moroccan and Senegalese immigrants sleeping under the chestnut trees or in abandoned farms or cars, and working as dayworkers for peasants’ families who were not able to pick all of the tomatoes on their own. During the summer campaign, the 2,000 inhabitants of Alfaya tripled, most immigrants coming from the depressed rural areas of the surrounding villages and only a hundred from Africa. There was plenty of work for everybody, and villagers were happy to have an extra source of workers at the climax of the campaign.

African workers were initially perceived to be in the same class position as other Andalusian dayworkers coming from the vicinity. They worked together in the same crew and most of them received the same salary. The situation resembled that of other Andalusian villages to which Alfaya’s peasants emigrated on a temporary basis from the ’50s to the ’70s, and that experience informed the way Alfaya’s peasants have acted in recent years. At that time, dayworkers from the vicinity were given priority over others coming from places like Alfaya: these got the worst abandoned farms, they had to equip the farmhouses with mattresses brought from the village on top of a couple of animals, and they accepted almost any salary offered by the large landowners who then controlled most of Andalusia’s land. In the late ’80s small landowners in Alfaya, who had struggled for a fair salary in the past, generally respected the minimum legal salary and paid equally to all dayworkers, Andalusians or Africans. However, Alfaya’s peasants resisted providing good housing to dayworkers, even if accepting this was a worker’s right, by claiming they were still poor peasants, strongly indebted, and thus unable to make the investments required to adapt old little farms into workers’ houses. The problem of housing, together with the legal status of foreigners, are in fact key components in the construction of the "problem of immigration" as an ethnic conflict. In the late ’80s, when African immigrants started working in intensive horticulture, the fact that most immigrants were considered "illegal" by the LOE was not considered a problem for hiring them. In fact, almost half of the production and one third of labor hiring were not legal, that is, they were not registered in official transactions. In addition to the importance of informal economy, fraud in declaring the minimum journeyworks needed in order to receive the agricultural unemployment subsidy was, and still is, rampant. In contrast to Africans who depended totally on the salary received, like dayworkers twenty years ago, Andalusians were granted an unemployment compensation after declaring that they have only managed to work for 60-90 journeyworks a year (depending of their age). Thus, the "illegality" of foreign labor caused no moral problems to local peasants, who were aware of the "illegality" of other Andalusians as well as their own irregular situation. Rather, peasants defined a "legal" worker in terms of the quality of work and of personal honesty and responsibility.42

Since 1991 this situation has been gradually changing as the first active immigration policy designed in the 1990 governmental document, which I refer to in the second section of this paper, has been enforced. The priorities set in this program were shaped by the project of a Europe without inner frontiers, and followed the guidelines of the Schengen Group, which stressed the need for strict control of frontiers, the establishment of visas for extra-communitarian countries, and the persecution of "illegal" immigrants established in the European territory. The new requirement of a visa for Moroccans and the regularization program offered by the government in 1991 attracted thousands of Africans who risked their lives and pledged their savings with the Mafiosi networks that flourished to cover the demand to cross the Strait of Gibraltar. This phenomenon was broadly covered by the mass media, new NGOs were created to cover assistance to immigrants and to denounce immigrants’ terrible conditions of life and the effects of the enforcement of the LOE. In fact 1991 was the crucial year in the construction of the "problem of immigration" at the national level, and this process reverberated at the local level, shaping the way the struggle for immigrants’ rights was contested in Alfaya.

In the village, the "immigration problem" interwove with local political struggle for the space and the meaning of the left, either as a revolutionary, internationalist struggle or as a reformist, social-democratic agenda 43. The defense of immigrants’ rights was not explicitly framed in a party politics discourse, but rather in terms of broader human and workers’ rights. This time, contrary to Assane’s case, which was directed towards provincial and national authorities, claims were made directly to local authorities requiring them to recognize African i mmigrants’ rights as village inhabitants and workers, no matter what their legal status was. The moral authority of the shelter-movement leader’s discourse, drawing from the emigration experience of most peasants in the village, the right of any worker unable to feed his/her family to cross borders and find a job abroad, and the Catholic principle of charity with the poor, was very strong. Municipal authorities were trapped in the contradictory position of having to enforce legality (and specifically the LOE) at the local level and at the same time to maintain the ideological principles that had brought them to power. They refused officially to support a shelter without all the legal requirements for such a use, especially when this shelter was going to lodge mostly "illegal" immigrants. In several public appearances and interviews, however, they always voiced their support of international migrant workers’ rights. A group of villagers and immigrants saw this assertion as hypocritical, and despite the opposition of local government, they finally conditioned an agricultural warehouse into an immigrants’ shelter. The parish priest asked people to cooperate in the effort to provide the shelter with mattresses, blankets, and kitchen tools. Many villagers gave what they could in the name of the leftist and Catholic principle of solidarity with the disadvantaged, including people who were opposed to the official support of an immigrants’ shelter.

The establishment of an unofficial shelter in the village marked profoundly the way immigrants were perceived by most villagers as well as Africans’ construction of a collective identity and participation in the local public sphere. It helped to crystallize in several ways the stereotype of immigrants that was then dominant in mass media. First, spatial segmentation helped to create a homogeneous image of African immigrants as workers "different" from the rest of temporary immigrants daily coming to the village. The concept of the immigrant came to be identified with that of "Moors," foreigners, and illegals. The Mayor actively helped to create this image, saying, "we have to be careful with the ghetto effect and with the potential attraction of illegal immigrants who will not have possibilities to work here. Those of them who do not find a job must leave, because this village is not a refugee camp."44 Second, this symbolic space "occupied" by immigrants was perceived as threatening, unknown, and with a potential for pollution of the rest of the village spaces. The local press echoed the opinion that "a shelter with no sanitary or hygienic condition ... may bring to the village drugs or sickness."45 Finally, immigrants were accused of claiming special privileges, like free housing, and of receiving more attention than "normal" citizens, even though most people recognized theirs was a very difficult situation.

On the other hand, the effect on the immigrants’ identities, claims, and participation in the public sphere was also important. Even though running a shelter for almost 100 persons was a difficult experience, most participants agreed that the shelter not only provided them with a space to sleep and eat, but also a symbolic space of "autonomy and dignity" where they could discuss their problems and "a place from which immigrants can create a collective identity, a base for hope, and a motivation for struggle."46 Immigrant leaders, most of whom were going to create autonomous immigrants’ associations, were trained in the almost daily meetings held in the shelter under the direction of the local leader. In those meetings they organized daily life and discussed collective answers to some racist attacks on the shelter or to the effects of the strengthening of the enforcement of Alien Law both at the physical frontier and in the interior.47 Immigrants got involved in local political struggle and learned about the effectiveness of the discourse used to claim their rights as workers and human beings. At the same time, however, they also resented the political strategy imposed on them by the local NGO Ardo El-Jamia [Everybody’s Land], based on a complete opposition to the local council’s ambiguous attitude towards immigrants and on the use of newspapers to accuse municipal authorities of racism. Some immigrants’ leaders also learned to resist what they saw as a paternalistic and homogeneous representation of African immigrants as poor people from the third world, lacking in everything: "We are not just people ‘without’ things or rights, we also have many rich traditions and important social resources lacked by Western societies. In order to show respect towards us it is important to know and stress this also."48 Although racism and legal exclusion from human and international workers’ rights were felt by some leaders as the crucial issues, immigrants already knew by the end of the summer how strongly people reacted to accusations of racism and to claims for a space in the village politics and daily life.

In order to get cooperation to gather the documents needed for the 1991-92 regularization campaign, immigrants and village supporters used the most effective discourse referred to above, avoiding the mention of discriminatory practices. Despite the reluctance of the local council to back an unofficial shelter that challenged the Alien Law’s strict division between legal and "illegal" immigrants, several councilors helped the networking efforts of the local leader of the shelter movement to persuade each peasant to "legalize" one or two Africans. They supported the regularization "to avoid exploitation of African workers," but they refused the "utopic" struggle of the shelter leader to provide lodging to anybody who arrived in the village in search of work: "We are a poor council, we cannot solve North African problems by ourselves. Every employer has to provide lodging for the people who work for him, that’s a worker right, and so workers have to have [legal] tools to require this right."49

In 1992, when I arrived for the first time in the village the possibility of a new shelter was completely discarded. The local council, in agreement with and supported by the regional government, changed its strategy by adopting an official program of assistance to immigrants, consisting mainly in: (1) a housing program for "legal immigrants" called "Tutelary Housing Plan" [Plan de Viviendas Tuteladas, PVT] aimed at persuading local owners of houses to rent them to African immigrants,50 and (2) an Immigrants Information Office, thought of mainly as a source of legal information about procedure of regularization and renewal of work/stay permits. Differences imposed by the strong line drawn by the LOE between legal and "illegal" immigrants and reproduced by the local council in the new immigration program caused tensions within the immigrant community. The legal immigrants [los legales] have access to public benefits, receive the minimum salary required for Spaniards, and can rent houses. Their living conditions are completely different from "the illegals" [los ilegales], who have no access to health care, receive sometimes half the minimum salary, and by law cannot form associations, or even rent houses. One of the "veterans" who had regularized his situation in 1991 and has had access to one of these PVT houses in 1992 told me:

The difference between legal and illegal immigrants is very dangerous among us, because some people take advantage of it. If I have a house, my obligation is to lodge my people. Hospitality is a religious principle, you know? There are no superior laws for us Muslims. But some people are ignoring this. The fact that you have papers doesn’t allow you to receive money for lodging somebody in a worse situation, nor to threaten these poor people so you can use them for your own profit....51


The situation this immigrant is denouncing here had become an important force in the distribution of power within immigrants’ communities; legal status became a resource that some leaders used to secure a loyal clientele. A well-situated immigrant could, for instance, provide temporary work to undocumented colleagues, retaining part of the salary for himself, or ask for money from them with the promise of getting some "papers" through his contacts with Spaniards. One of these leaders legitimated his control over the Moroccan community in these terms:

Most Moroccans are illiterate and ignorant peasants. We have to show them the right way to do things here. They cannot live as animals, they cannot accept anything Spaniards offer them. I have spent much money to feed them and to clothe them properly. Everybody knows I care for my people and they respect me as a father.52


Similarly, and contrary to the expectations of NGOs, trade unions working in the Immigrant Information Office, and local government, immigrants tended to emphasize the differences among themselves, not only in nationality, ethnicity, and race, but also in the particular way they understand and live their common religion, Islam.53 These differences as well as a heterogeneity in class and urban/rural backgrounds showed as important hindrances in the creation of a common space of struggle and a common leadership. During 1992 immigrants’ spatial dispersion in the valley surrounding the village favored this process of internal structuration. Senegalese immigrants, for instance, gathered around two spots: one was a couple of camping tents under the chestnut trees and the other was around the house of a legal Senegalese worker. Moroccan immigrants followed a similar process of diversification, characterized, in contrast to Senegalese and as a reflection of Moroccan politics, by strong distrust among each other and a permanent suspicion of having "spies" in the community (clandestine informers of Moroccan or Spanish police).

This internal structuration shows the high level of heterogeneity and complexity among these new social actors in the Andalusian social structure. In spite of this, the imposition of racist descriptions of immigrants as an homogeneous group as well as institutional practices that discriminate against them as third world foreigners have shaped the construction of a new collective identity as African immigrants opposed to European/Andalusian citizens. But the awakening of ethnic consciousness, always "a product of historical processes which structure relations of inequality" is double-sided. Andalusian peasants also developed in this process a new collective identity where European ethnicity and citizenship become a "dominant medium through which the social order is interpreted and navigated."54 The effect of the enforcement of Spanish/European immigration policies on the rebordering of the Mediterranean, characterized by institutional racist control or persecution of Africans and legal exclusion, was in fact most successful when control was indirectly extended to peasants through Inspections of Labor. The contradictions of a semi-peripheral state in such a situation are clear. While the informal economy and "illegal" labor conditions are generally tolerated, especially in harvest time, the government also has the social responsibility for guaranteeing the socioeconomic rights of Spaniards and legal foreign workers, and for preventing exploitation in the workplace. This is why the state orders Inspections of Labor, in order to control, not only illegal immigration, but also autochthonous informal economy and fraud, defined as an "anti-social plague."55 The analysis of the first major Inspection of Labor held in the village will illustrate how the redefinition of ethnic and legal consciousness is taking place.

This Inspection of Labor took place in Alfaya in September 1992 and concentrated in the campground organized by the local NGOs to cover the housing needs of African workers, only insignificantly met by the official program of PVT. The municipal council agreed with NGOs and other institutions this campground was a temporary solution for lodging the more than one hundred immigrants then working in the harvesting. The intervention of officials from the Ministry of Labor and Social Security, exceptionally accompanied by several Civil Guards equipped with dogs as if they were to doing a criminal roundup, was a surprise for all of them. In this spectacular intervention, five immigrants were arrested, including one Moroccan who had all his papers in order, and one "national" employer was accused of hiring "illegal" labor. The five immigrants were kept under arrest in Granada’s police station, the legal one was sent back to Alfaya the next day and the other four were expelled from the country. The following day immigrants and many villagers demonstrated in front of the municipal council to protest against the "racist" character of the inspection. I interviewed several people in the village, including villagers and immigrants, the village’s Mayor, and some councilors. It was the first massive demonstration in the village related to immigrants’ vulnerability, and it was surprisingly heterogeneous: there where Moroccans and Senegalese, (both legal and "illegal"), and women and men of all ages from the village, volunteers from the local NGO, as well as several people from the municipal council. There were also significant absences, such as one well-known Moroccan leader who maintained a clientelist attitude both towards the local council and its compatriots.

The demonstration took place at the center of the village, just in front of the town hall, making for the first time a symbolically relevant spatial conquest. Africans showed themselves as a strong force, a group of racially discriminated people who knew what their rights as workers were. Interestingly enough, the protesters directed their criticisms against the provincial/national government, and took care that the municipal council, some of whose members participated in the demonstration, was not blamed for the inspection. The cautious attitude of the council and its ability to distance itself from the provincial and central government (in spite of sharing party affiliations), helped to create a space for immigrants where they could present a unified voice as migrant agricultural workers and against institutional racism. The Inspection produced a new collective solidarity among African immigrants incorporating for the first time all nationalities and legal statutes. The fact that a legal immigrant was arrested served to strengthen the image of an arbitrary and racist state. A new collective identity, "made in Europe," that stresses ethnic/racial and legal discrimination acquires importance in the course of immigrants’ participation in the public sphere. By the end of this summer the new independent immigrants’ association, to whose first meetings I was invited, emphasized labor exploitation, legal discrimination, and institutional racism as the most important issues around which immigrants should organize. Various reasons were given for this inter-ethnic association:

We do not want to be perceived as Moroccans or Senegalese, because we all are here in the same situation. I think an association of immigrants should work for the legalization of workers, and against racism in hiring practices. We do not want our governments to label us as anti-regime, anti-Moroccans. We just struggle to improve our situation here and this should be very clear.56


In fact, because of immigrants’ appeal to their rights as workers, most people in the village supported the demonstration although they were highly concerned about the short-term consequences that might harm their interests. A lot of people thought this action was "unfair": the Civil Guards had controlled the identity and required the papers of immigrants living in the camp and working in the lands, not asking anything from native workers.57 Only one employer was ordered to show all the legal requirements for having three [African] workers with him. Many villagers solidarized with the peasant fined for hiring "illegal" workers: they argued the salary was fair, and that one immigrant can be legal but not necessarily a trustworthy, good worker, and conversely. By enforcing the LOE in a very strict way, the State was not thinking about peasants’ needs. Besides, villagers’ recent experience with emigration in Europe and a strong class identity resulted in a broad delegitimation of the hierarchization of legal statutes imposed on Spanish territory; as a villager told me, "there is nothing legal and illegal in working to feed your family, everybody has the right to eat. We did anything we could to achieve this in the north, and it is only normal that these people [African immigrants] do the same here." Most former emigrants, however, did have a contract in Europe and feel current African migrants are being deceived because, as they say, Spain is not prepared to have immigration.

Even though the state was blamed for the racist character of the intervention, many peasants thought immigrants were causing too much trouble. Some of them believed that this demonstration would focus too much attention on the village’s informal hiring practices, and that it would mean the end of substantial profits. In fact institutional practices to control both illegal immigration and informal economy have produced a constant fear in peasants, which was obviously more intense for immigrants. Peasants opt for being as invisible as they can, and because hiring an immigrant is to take a risk of being controlled by the Labor authorities, they have become the most efficient agents of the LOE. They may recognize that nobody can expel an honest worker, but they were unhappy about the way immigrants had used the word "racism," and their anger and fear were easily transformed into ethnic confrontation. A few people felt the inspection and the consequent expulsion of the workers was fair, because these "illegal immigrants are taking our jobs away." Even though African immigrants are not directly competing with native workers, the low salaries that a few immigrants accept in extreme situations are perceived as disloyal competition that, in the words of a local union leader, "weakens the capability of class struggle against exploitation." The ethnic/racial segmentation was also seen as a Moroccan or Senegalese problem inadequately brought to the village: "they have problems in their countries, because they have dictators that treat them as rubbish; here we know what that is like, but we struggle against social injustices in our own country; abroad you are nothing but a worker. In that sense we are all the same." Institutional practices, thus, produce an ethnicization of class relations, with people in the same class competing for resources along ethnic lines.

With time, the enforcement of the LOE has become widely accepted. In a 1994 interview, a socialist councilor who had stayed in France for fifteen years told me about immigration:

At the time of the ‘illegals’ demonstration in 1992, I was in charge. I talked to the Civil Guard, to the Governor in Granada ... I thought the council did not deserve a demonstration. Because we know about emigration, we know the difference between legal and ‘illegal’ is not a persons’ difference [that is, it is an ‘artificial’ difference, not a ‘real’ one]. But we, as political authorities in charge, should be responsible, shouldn’t we? And I think now the LOE is not a Spanish issue, it is a European one. We are obliged, because we have problems with Africa, the same way Germany has problems with East Europe. We all have to cooperate.58


In these years, people have become more aware of Spain’s situation in Europe and its competitiveness with Morocco in some important agricultural and fishing issues. This argument was used in the village to "keep Moors under control," mixing it in a very interesting way with remnant historical imagery. An Andalusian dayworker who came from a neighbor province with his family told me:

I like Moors, I have worked with them, and I know people do not treat them as they should. But you know? They have to adapt themselves to their situation, they are dayworkers, as I am. But I am Spanish, and you know Spain has a strong competitor in Morocco to export tomatoes and other things. It is fair that they work here now. I also was in Switzerland.... The Moors have a very special feeling with Andalusia, you know? In Granada, or Cordoba, my own city, they dream about having it again. I think it is fair they work here, but if they try to use Cordoba’s mosque I will struggle, because it is ours. We fought for it, the same way we fought against dictatorship, and to change our economy, so we are now in Europe. And all this was not for Moroccans to harvest the fruits of our efforts.59


Peasants are thus incorporating (European) citizenship as an identity category that fuses together ethnic loyalties and membership rights and depicts Andalusians and Moroccans, or Europeans and Africans, as rivals. Similarly, the surveillance and control of immigrants’ activities as third world foreigners is also being appropriated by African immigrants as an identity category and as a form of resistance. One Senegalese complained about immigrants who make distinctions among themselves along ethnic or legal lines: "We are all brothers here! All of us foreigners need the same papers, blacks, Arabs, Chinese, and whites. The state doesn’t want any of us here, and if we persist it is because we need it, all of us!" The imposed need to present each year official documents (taxes, contracts, a permanent address, etc.) in order to work and stay as residents in the country is being transformed in a discourse that denounces the hypocrisy of the Spanish state in not applying the same standard to Spanish citizens. Their enforced visibility is mostly felt as discriminatory when they are required to pay the onerous monthly social security costs, given the fact that many Andalusian workers are not paying it: "the Spanish state doesn’t allow poor immigrants to stay; if you do not have money to pay, you don’t get the papers." This discourse, which is being appropriated by immigrants’ associations in Alfaya, is also indirectly resisting the hierarchical model of citizenship that grants citizens some rights denied to immigrants (denizens and undocumented, or following the popular Spanish slang, legal and "illegal") on the exclusive basis of place of origin. As some immigrants told me: "Politics here in Andalusia are very much like in our country [Morocco], many words and few real rights. The fact is, if you pay you get the papers; if tomatoes need to be picked the Civil Guard forgets about us. This is the underlining law, the reality of European society."60


The material and symbolic creation of new spaces is not a unidirectional process. The new imagined Spain, as a modern and democratic European country, creates new expectations of citizens as well as new [unwelcome] duties. The demagoguery of control conjured up by the LOE is embodied in social practices in a way that reinforces the idea of national and supranational interests to be safeguarded by Spanish citizens. Third world immigrants, because of their always-pending legality, their poverty and purported criminality, come to be seen as threatening and unknown, an alteration of Spain’s "social order" and are pictured as irredeemable "others," locked up in an immutable cultural identity, race, or level of development that is not "ours." This artificial dichotomy between "us" and the "others" is at the base of the creation of a hegemonic "common sense" discourse that naturalizes the idea that modernization of Spanish society "necessarily implies" both leaving behind the "time" of a lower level of development, and setting a national and transnational "space" from which underdeveloped societies are kept out.

At the local level, however, the cultural and geographical border between immigrants and villagers enforced by the law is also experienced as the dominance of a "northern" European imagery that disempowers people’s cultures and autonomy. The dominant discourse in politics and mass media is still centered on the need to transform deep "social habits" that inhibit and are at odds with the modern and developed European state and citizens. The existence of a pervasive underground economy and social security fraud in Alfaya is represented in the dominant discourse as a consequence of social habits unsuited to European standards, an "anti-social" plague. Alfaya’s villagers situate themselves in the contradictory position of being watchmen of a limited and ordered citizenship, which is at the same time legitimizing the control and surveillance of their own socioeconomic and cultural practices.

However, not every social actor buys the national xenophobic discourse, and some alternative notions of citizenship are being constructed through political and social practices. These social actors include, among others, the NGOs, whose role in both first and third world societies is becoming increasingly important, and immigrants’ associations that appeal to (and thus create) a new ethnic identity in order to be able to represent the highly heterogeneous immigrant population. The formation of these alternative social movements has to be seen in the context of the crisis of the nation-state,61 and the distance between traditional channels of social and political participation and the people, who ask for a more encompassing notion of the meaning of citizenship.

The restrictive concept of citizenship prevalent in the dominant discourse is at odds with that of NGOs and immigrants’ associations. Whereas in the official discourse citizenship is something that one "naturally" has (just for being a Spaniard), the notion of citizenship I perceived as emerging from these subaltern practices is that of something that one acquires. If the dominant discourse understands citizenship as the condition for having some specific social rights, the subaltern discourse understands it as a tool to produce those and new social rights, and as a byproduct of the struggle for international human rights.

The political economy of Mediterranean rebordering has arisen within the context of international economic dependency and rests on the internal contradiction of the nation-state, which is producing new ways to overcome the traditional separation between states as the basis for socioeconomic development and the acquisition of civil rights and duties. Transnational population movements, based on historical exchanges and geographical as well as cultural closeness, cross these borders and thereby challenge their existence. The construction of new social actors in the Mediterranean social space involves a break with the ideologically constructed boundaries between ethnic identities and cultural distances. New social rights are advocated from an international and holistic notion of human rights, which questions the legitimacy of the rebordering of geographical frontiers, as well as a "national" common interest that requires "us" to support an unequal international distribution of power.

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1 D. Harvey, "From Space to Place and Back Again: Reflections on the Condition of Postmodernity," in J. Bird et al., Mapping the Futures, Local Cultures, Global Change (London: Routeledge, 1993) 4.

2 Financial support at various stages of fieldwork (1992-1995) was provided by the National Science Foundation (SBR-9411667), the Fulbright/MEC doctoral grant, the Mellon Foundation, the Institute for International Studies at Stanford, and the Stanford Department of Anthropology. I am grateful to my colleague Aida Hernandez, with whom I did three months of fieldwork in 1992, for sharing with me her fieldwork materials. I also thank NGOs in Spain and Granada, such as Granada Acoge, Ardo el-Jamía, Mbolo Moy Doole, the Andalusian Human Rights Association, and others. I want to thank particularly the villagers of Alfaya and its African inhabitants, without whose generosity this research would have been impossible.

3 B. Anderson, Imagined Communities (London: Verso, 1991); E. Hobsbawm, Nations and Nationalism Since 1780 (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1990).

4 I will use the term "illegal" instead of more appropriated alternatives (undocumented or irregular) because I want to keep the connotations of the word and reflect its widespread use by almost everybody in daily discourses (from official sources, to mass media, to immigrants’ discourses).

5 F. Braudel, The Mediterranean (New York: Harper & Row, 1972) was one of the first historians who chose the Mediterranean as an ecological unit in which exchanges and influences shaped a common history. From anthropology, several efforts have been made to present the area as a coherent whole. J. Davis, People of the Mediterranean (London: Routeledge and Kegan Paul, 1977) is one of the authors who tried to make sense of this unified Mediterranean construct. Braudel and Davis’s unitary vision of the Mediterranean has been challenged by other scholars who argue that Christian and Islamic societies, far from being mutually constituted, have become irreconcilable enemies since the sixteenth century.

6 E. Balibar, "Racism and Politics in Europe Today," New Left Review 186 (Mar.-Apr. 1991): 5-19.

7 Most of the literature on migration in Europe draws a clear limit between northern developed Europe and the Mediterranean. See for example the already classic John Berger and Jean Mohr, A Seventh Man. The Story of a Migrant Worker in Europe (Baltimore: Penguin, 1975) and S. Castles and G. Kosack, Immigrant Workers and Class Structure in Western Europe, 2nd ed. (London: Oxford UP, 1985). More than 1,200,000 Spaniards participated in the "guestworker" programs in France, Germany, or Switzerland, a figure that does not take into account clandestine emigration. Andalusia is the region with a higher representation in European countries, specially people from rural backgrounds. From 1973 to the middle ’80s most emigrants progressively return to Spain, although there are still important collectives abroad (J. Cazorla Pérez, Retorno al Sur [Madrid: Siglo XXI, 1989]).

8 I found the expression "culture of migration" to refer to Spanish emigrants’ specific culture in a manuscript titled "Primeras Jornadas de Educación y Cultura," by the Association of Spanish Immigrants in Holland. The description of common beliefs and values in this and other Spanish emigrants’ testimonies is similar to that of peoples migrating from other peripheral areas, such as the Caribbean, described by Rubenstein as "migration ideology" (quoted in L. Basch et al., Nations Unbound. Transnational Projects, Postcolonial Predicaments, and Deterritorialized Nation-States [Amsterdam: Gordon and Breach, 1994 ] 63). I use the expression with reticence however: it should not be understood as a metaphysical and essential entity but as a cultural expression of the country’s location in the international labor market and the discourses and practices of the state.

9 1960 Emigration Law, in F. López del Amo, "Ideología en torno a la Ley de Extrajería y "Reglamento de Ejecución," Itinera: Anales de la fundación Paulino Torras Domenech (1989-1990).

10 See C. Solé, "Los immigrantes en la sociedad y en la cultura catalanas," in Temas de Historia y Política Contemporáneas (Barcelona: Ediciones Península, 1982); Castles and Kosack; and C. Wilpert, ed., Entering the Work Force. Following the Descendants of Europe Immigrant Labour Force (Aldershot: Gower, 1988), for testimonies on Spanish and other Mediterranean workers in northern Europe.

11 "Moros" is the common term used to refer to North Africans in daily life, and its use comes from several centuries ago. Many times it is used as a derogatory term but not always, although it clearly draws its meaning from a biased and essentialized notion of North Africans historically forged in the close relations between peoples in both shores.
Andalusians and North Africans continuously refer to common traditions and to ideas they share, and contrast them to their perception of northern European culture; daily interactions underscore the importance of "honesty and wariness in interpersonal relations" (vs. hypocrisy and coldness in northern Europe), "community life and solidarity" (vs. isolation), and many other purportedly Mediterranean cultural characteristics. It should be noted, however, that their ethnic representations are also shaped by mutual historical images of conflict and intolerance, such as Arabs’ presence in Al-Andalus and other peninsular kingdoms for seven centuries, Spain’s protectorate in Morocco, Moroccans participation in the Spanish Civil war as part of Franco’s elite army, and the weight of (unequal) commercial trade between the two nations.

12 By 1979, 1,309,000 Andalusians were working in northern Spanish regions that draw on immigrant populations for industrial development. In the late ’70s, more than 40 percent of the Catalonian population did not identify with the Catalonian nation nor did they speak their language (Solé 21). Most of them came from the south of Spain, and specifically Andalusia; in contrast to emigration to European countries, most have stayed and nowadays constitute a sociocultural minority that is especially salient in Catalonia.

13 Berger and Mohr.

14 After the parenthesis of autarchic policies of the first period of the Francoist dictatorship, Spain progressively aligned itself with western developed countries, first through the military and economic pact with the United States (1953), preferential commercial agreements with the EC (late ’60s), the death of the dictator (1975), and afterwards with its incorporation to NATO (1982) and to the European Community (1986). The U.S.-Spain agreement set the basis of the phenomenon that has been called the "Spanish economic miracle," which produced an accelerated economic development during the ’60s (see Colectivo IOE, "Los immigrantes en España," in Documentación Social 66 (Madrid: Caritas Española, Enero-Marzo, 1987]).

15 Even though the description of the problematic status of a common Spanish national identity is beyond the scope of this paper, readers should take into account the political and cultural force of various national identities within the Spanish territory, which are officially recognized by the 1978 Spanish Constitution. The common interest referred to in the text appears to be above the many conflicts of interests arising from this pluri-national nature of the state.

16 Spanish Government, Situación de los extrajeros en España. Líneas básicas de la política española de immigración (1990) 16.

17 My emphasis; Spanish Government, section on "Social Integration," 18.

18 Spanish Government, section on "Strengthening Police Action," 19. Carlos Planas Cercós, "Problemas gubernativos en materia de extrajería," Itinera: Anales de la Fundación Paulino Torrás Domenech (Barcelona: 1990-1991), Chief Administrative Officer at the Civil Government of Barcelona (1990), says that already 20 percent of criminal acts were performed by foreigners in 1988. It is unclear whether these statistics count illegal residence in Spain as "delinquent," in which case such increase would hardly be surprising (see S. Hall et al., Policing the Crisis: Smuggling, the State, and Law and Order [London: Macmillan Press, 1978] for a critical analysis of the use of crime statistics in Great Britain).

19 Planas Cercós.

20 L. Suárez-Navaz and A. Hernández, "Análisis de la representación de los immigrantes africanos en la prensa española" (manuscript, 1993).

21 Popularly known as the Ley de Extranjería, the Spanish migration policy consists of the Organic Law 7, 1 Jul. 1985, on Rights and Liberties of Foreigners in Spain, and the Royal decree of 1986. Additional legislation includes European Council’s and International agreements. See Ley y Reglamento de Extranjería (Madrid: Boletin Oficial del Estado, 1991).

22 Corredera, M. P. and L. S. Díez, "La política de ‘extranjería’ en España" in Jesús Contrearas (comp.), Los Retos de la Inmigración. Racismo y Pluriculturalidad (Madrid: Talasa Ed., 1994) 126.

23 Since 1985 European migratory policies are developed in several intergovernmental arenas: the Group of Schengen, the "Ad Hoc" group of immigration, and the group of TREVI. The European Parliament has denounced several times the agreements for their extra-communitary character and for the secrecy of their resolutions. One of the main consequences is that security and administrative practices are not subject to a supranational control, nor to national parliamentary and juridical control. For a good description of the process by which the intergovernmental groups created the current migration policies see the 1990 Report of Human Rights in Spain, APDHE, Informe Anual Derechos Humanos en España 1990 16 (Madrid: APDHE, 1991).

24 Records of parliamentary discussions, in Corredera and Díez 134.

25 For the first good overview on immigration in Spain, see Colectivo IOE.

26 T. Hammar, European Immigration Policy: A Comparative Study (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1985).

27 E.M., lawyer for the Human Rights Association in Granada, APDH. Several articles of the LOE were afterwards declared unconstitutional, such as Article 34 to which this lawyer was referring, as well as Articles 7 and 8 on the prohibition of association of "illegal" workers, and Article 26 on detention and expulsion procedures. In fact, still today the immigrant who wants to appeal an order of deportation can do so, but this will not stop deportation. In practice most third world immigrants are left at the mercy of inconsistent, many times arbitrary, decisions of administrative actors, such as their wish to write a deportation order or accept a document as valid.

28 Article 12 of the LOE/85 states that: "para la concesión de la visa se atenderá al interés del estado Español y de sus nacionales. La denegación no necesitará ser motivada" ["in granting a visa, the interests of the Spanish state and its nationals should be taken into account. The refusal to grant the visa needs not be motivated."]. Equally important, visa applicants have to prove that they can support themselves during their stay in Spain. Around $500 is required, plus $5 for each day of stay, and the return ticket. Poor people from the third world find it difficult to justify this money, and many times they just prefer to cross the border illegally, which appears like a more accessible alternative. The coordinator of the NGO "Almería Acoge" told us that "nobody would risk his/her life crossing the Straits of Gibraltar in such horrible conditions if they could come with a temporal visa." NGOs in Andalusia blame the state for the continuous deaths in the Straits, with demonstrations during 1991 and 1992 in front of the Civil Government with the slogan, "No more deaths in the Straits; For a solidary Mediterranean."

29 Three of the most common statistical analyses of undocumented workers in Spain, all of them made before the 1991 regularization: 1) Colectivo IOE (1987): 366,500; 2) A. Izquierdo, La immigración en España (Instituto Español de Emigración, 1989): Low Hypothesis: 81,000/Medium Hypothesis: 125,000/High Hypothesis:220,000-240,000; 3) PASS, Mapa de los trabajadores extrajeros en situación irregular en España (Madrid: DGM, 1989): 172,000 (confirmed), 259,000 (estimated).

30 The number of legal immigrants from Africa has increased to 14.81 percent of the legal foreign population; however, it is important to keep in mind that more than half of the legal immigrants in Spain come from Europe (56.25 percent). See Ministerio de Trabajo y Seguridad Social, Datos estadísticos de la regularización de extrajeros de 1991 (1992).

31 The law establishes multiple formal requirements to legally stay in the country, which should be renewed every year in most cases. In practice many "legal" immigrants are in the process of getting ready to present their application to renew the residence and job permit, waiting for the answer from the authorities (many times arriving months later) while continuing to work, working in an economic sector other than that approved by the Ministry of Labor, or having moved from the one assigned in their residence without notifying it to the police. Any of these situations are defined by the law as illegal, and can be punished with expulsion from the country (for a study case see L. Suárez-Navaz, "Los trabajadores africanos en la agricultura intensiva española: el caso de Zafarraya," Informe de trabajo de campo [manuscript, 1994]).

32 The renewal of the work permit is not, as I said, automatic. It depends on the "interests of the state." Many immigrants who had acquired a legal status become illegal again when the initial work permit expired, because they failed to pay the taxes, or due to the reticence of employers to hire people who can bring attention to their underground economic practices.

33 L. Suárez-Navaz, "Les Sénégalais en Andalusie," in Mondes en Developpement 91.23 (1995).

34 See L. Benton, Invisible Factories. The Informal Economy and Industrial Development in Spain (Albany: State U of New York P, 1990) Chapter 7.

35 I confirmed this during my fieldwork since I was stopped much more frequently when I was with African immigrants, either in the car or just walking around in the street or in the village. Even though I am Spanish, the fact that I was born in Colombia, information that is included in the Spanish National Document of Identity (DNI), showed to be an additional source of suspicion. African immigrants use to joke about this, saying that it was good to be stopped with me because the stereotype of Colombians being drug dealers attenuated the attention paid to them.

36 L. Suárez-Navaz, "Law and Surveillance in Southern Spain," in POLAR, Political and Legal Anthropology Review 18.2 (1996).

37 Malkki, L., "National Geographic: The Rooting of Peoples and the Territorialization of National Identity among Scholars and Refugees," Cultural Anthropology 7.1 (1992): 22-44.

38 J. Burgos, Andalucia: ¿Tercer Mundo? (Barcelona: Plaza Janes, 1972) 37, 94.

39 Assane N., Senegalese immigrant.

40 Interview, summer 1994.

41 Original pasquinade distributed in the demonstrations, 1989.

42 Suárez-Navaz, Law and Surveillance.

43 Although it is impossible here to develop more historical analysis of the village itself, it is important to stress the very revolutionary process that took place here since the mid-’70s. The people now in power belonged almost all of them to the workers’ movement (PTE), a section of the Communist party that was absorbed by the Socialist party (PSOE) in 1991. Other people related to the Communist party, not in power now, blame their old comrades for having changed their position so dramatically. The internal political struggle in the town is one of the main topics of conversation, and many immigrants are very aware of this confrontation.

44 Interview, summer 1992.

45 El Ideal, 11 Jul. 1991.

46 Diario 16, 28 Jul. 1996.

47 The LOE penalizes not only "illegal" foreigners and employers who hire them, but also any person who, though not directly hiring them, is helping them in finding jobs. The leader of the shelter was "punished" that summer for his behavior with a fine of $8,000 (average nine-months salary!). This case was published in El Pais, the main newspaper in Spain, and the information could be read as both an warning and a denouncement of the LOE. When E. received the notification of the penalization, as he told me, immigrants talked about strategies to collect the money for him. This solidarity should not be understood, according to E. as a "utilitarian" one, but as the real connection of interests between him and the immigrants and as a consequence of the common struggle against racism and social injustice.

48 M., Moroccan immigrant.

49 Interview with Mayor, summer 1992.

50 C. Senegalese Immigrant

51 In this plan local owners were offered by the council a lowering of taxes, the guarantee of receiving the rents, special subsidies and loans to condition old houses, and an insurance against fire damages in the houses. Despite all these benefits most people resisted renting houses to immigrants, and most of them were offered by people related in one way or another to the local council.

52 A., Moroccan immigrant.

53 Senegalese people are generally perceived among immigrants as having a high degree of solidarity as well as independence from other groups. Moroccans are said to be more jealous of their intimacy and to have less solidarity, and Algerians are considered by both groups to be the most aggressive and trouble-making, because "they know very well what their rights are." These cultural stereotypes do not respond to the high degree of heterogeneity I found in each of the groups.
In relation to religious practices there are great discrepancies between North African and Senegalese. Even though Islam is generally considered a multiracial and multicultural community, in practice Arabs scorn black Islam and specially Muridism, a original Senegalese brotherhood that follows the teaching of an anti-colonialist black leader, Cheick Amadou Bamba (see L. Suárez-Navaz, "Estrategias de Pertenencia y Marcos de Exclución: Colectivos Sociales y Estados en un mundo transnacional," in Acts of the VII Congress of Spanish Anthropology [Zaragoza: 16-30 Sep. 1996]).

54 J.L. Comaroff, "Of Totemism and Ethnicity," in Ethos 52.III-IV(1987): 308, 311.

55 See Spanish Government 37.

56 J., one of the leaders of the association, working for a Spanish woman under a legal contract.

57 The racist character of Inspections in the village have been proven in other interventions of the state forces, when they have insulted and run after villagers thinking they were "illegal moors." Moroccans and Andalusians, specially those who are working in the countryside, are very close phenotypically and they can be easily confused. In 1994 a young Alfayan was pursued by the police while they shouted at him "you stop shit moor!" [párate, moro de mierda!].

58 A., former emigrant and councilor.

59 M., dayworker in Alfaya.

60 R., Moroccan immigrant.

61 See R. Stavenhagen, The Ethnic Question: Conflicts, Development and Human Rights (Tokio: United Nations UP, 1990); A.H. Richmond, Immigration and Ethnic Conflict (New York: St. Martin Press, 1988); Balibar, E. and I. Wallerstein, Race, Nation and Class. Ambiguous Identities. (London and New York: Verso, 1991) S. Castles, "Migrant Workers and the Transformation of Western Societies," in Western Societies Program/Occasional Paper 22 (Center for International Studies, Cornell UP, 1989); and others.

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