Journal of Romance Studies

Hervás, convivencia and the heritagization of Spain’s Jewish past

Journal of Romance Studies (2010), 10, (2), 53–76.

Abstract

Since the early 1990s, and coinciding with the celebratory events of the fifth centenary, new cultural initiatives related to the legacies of Spain’s Jewish inhabitants have been added to the marketing of the country as a tourist destination. This article analyses how these initiatives foreground convivencia [coexistence] as a uniquely Spanish cultural tradition and shape it into a marketable ideological product, by focusing on the town of Hervás, in the province of Cáceres, Extremadura, as a prime example of the complexities inherent in these tourism initiatives. Over the last twelve years Hervás has organized a celebration of its Jewish identity in ‘Los conversos’ [‘The converts’], a three-day festival in which the town’s inhabitants dress up as ‘Jews’ and stage a collective performance of a theatre play related to its Jewish past. Through careful analysis of the gradual changes that have been incorporated into the festival and the play over the years, the article studies the entanglement of desires and anxieties and the multiple contradictions that arise as this town foregrounds its Jewish past to negotiate unresolved issues of transnational, national, regional and local identity. The article combines an analysis of textual sources, especially the literary works on which Hervás has relied to construct the image of itself promoted in the festival, and materials gathered from fieldwork there (promotional materials, video footage and photographs of the celebrations, interviews with organizers and participants, etc.). It also relies on the research undertaken by local historian Marciano de Hervás, and current theorizations of patrimonialization and heritagization (Urry 1995; Kirshenblatt-Gimblett 1998) and the ‘reinvention’ of Jewish culture in Europe (Gruber 2002) in the field of tourism studies.

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Meyerson, Mark D. (2004) A Jewish Renaissance in Fifteenth-Century Spain (Princeton: Princeton University Press). A Jewish Renaissance in Fifteenth-Century Spain Google Scholar

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Nirenberg, David (2002) ‘Mass conversion and genealogical mentalities: Jews and Christians in fifteenth-century Spain’, Past and Present 174, 3–41. Mass conversion and genealogical mentalities: Jews and Christians in fifteenth-century Spain Past and Present 174 3 41 Google Scholar

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Sendín Blázquez, José (1987) ‘Amor y sangre en la judería’, in Leyendas Extremeñas (León: Everest), 113–19. Amor y sangre en la judería Leyendas Extremeñas 113 19 Google Scholar

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Urry, John (1995) Consuming Places (London and New York: Routledge). Consuming Places Google Scholar

Wolodarsky, Solly (1985) Los conversos: pieza teatral en dos partes (Madrid: La Avispa). Los conversos: pieza teatral en dos partes Google Scholar

Wolodarsky, Solly (2000) La conversa de Hervás (Madrid: La Avispa). La conversa de Hervás Google Scholar

Wolodarsky, Solly (2007) El judío de Hervás (Madrid: Hebraica). El judío de Hervás Google Scholar

Abend, Lisa (2008) ‘Spain’s new Muslims: a historical romance’, in In the Light of Medieval Spain: Islam, the West and the Relevance of History, ed. Simon R. Doubleday and David Coleman (New York: Palgrave Macmillan), 133–56. Spain’s new Muslims: a historical romance In the Light of Medieval Spain: Islam, the West and the Relevance of History 133 56 Google Scholar

Álvarez Chillida, Gonzalo (2002) El antisemitismo en España: La imagen del judío, 1812–2002 (Madrid: Marcial Pons). El antisemitismo en España: La imagen del judío, 1812–2002 Google Scholar

Baer, Alejandro (2007) ‘Tanques contra piedras: La imagen de Israel en España’, Raíces: Revista judía de cultura 72, 26–31. Tanques contra piedras: La imagen de Israel en España Raíces: Revista judía de cultura 72 26 31 Google Scholar

Balfour, Sebastian (2002) Deadly Embrace: Morocco and the Road to the Spanish Civil War (Oxford: Oxford University Press). Deadly Embrace: Morocco and the Road to the Spanish Civil War Google Scholar

Castellano, José María (2000) Hervás: Guía histórica ilustrada (Madrid: Celeste). Hervás: Guía histórica ilustrada Google Scholar

Cohen, Judith R. (1996) ‘Bringing it all back home: Sephardic re-creation in a Galician town’, Donaire 6, 98–106. Bringing it all back home: Sephardic re-creation in a Galician town Donaire 6 98 106 Google Scholar

Cohen, Judith R. (1999) ‘Constructing a Spanish Jewish festival: music and the appropriation of tradition in imagined Iberian Jewish communities’, The World of Music 41.3, 95–114. Constructing a Spanish Jewish festival: music and the appropriation of tradition in imagined Iberian Jewish communities The World of Music 41.3 95 114 Google Scholar

‘Conversos. En el barrio judío de Hervás representan sus vecinos esta obra teatral y coral’, Festivales y eventos culturales de Extremadura, http://www.escenaextremadura.com/Programa.asp?id_festival=24 [accessed 20 May 2010]. Google Scholar

Flesler, Daniela and Adrián Pérez Melgosa (2008) ‘Marketing Convivencia: contemporary tourist appropriations of Spain’s Jewish past’, in Spain is (Still) Different: Tourism and Discourse in Spanish Cultural Identity, ed. Jaume Martí-Olivella and Eugenia Afinoguénova (Lanham MD: Lexington Books), 63–84. Marketing Convivencia: contemporary tourist appropriations of Spain’s Jewish past Spain is (Still) Different: Tourism and Discourse in Spanish Cultural Identity 63 84 Google Scholar

Friedman, Michal (forthcoming) ‘Reconquering “Sepharad”: Hispanism and proto-Facism in Giménez Caballero’s Sephardist crusade’, in ‘Revisiting Jewish Spain: Translations, Appropriations and Commemorations in the Modern Era’ (special issue), ed. Daniela Flesler, Tabea Linhard and Adrián Pérez Melgosa, Journal of Spanish Cultural Studies. Reconquering “Sepharad”: Hispanism and proto-Facism in Giménez Caballero’s Sephardist crusade Journal of Spanish Cultural Studies Google Scholar

González de Hervás, Emilio (1953) ‘Hervás: Canto al amor verdadero’, Revista de Ferias y Fiestas de Hervás, 7–10. Hervás: Canto al amor verdadero Revista de Ferias y Fiestas de Hervás 7 10 Google Scholar

González de Hervás, Emilio (1971) Mis versos de ayer y de hoy (Madrid: Aldus). Mis versos de ayer y de hoy Google Scholar

Gruber, Ruth Ellen (2002) Virtually Jewish: Reinventing Jewish Culture in Europe (Berkeley: University of California Press). Virtually Jewish: Reinventing Jewish Culture in Europe Google Scholar

Hervás, Marciano de (1997) ‘La invención de la tradición: leyendas apócrifas sobre los judíos de Hervás’, Revista de Dialectología y Tradiciones Populares 50.1, 177–203. La invención de la tradición: leyendas apócrifas sobre los judíos de Hervás Revista de Dialectología y Tradiciones Populares 50.1 177 203 Google Scholar

Hervás, Marciano de (2001) Los judíos de Hervás (Hervás, Cáceres: El Lagar). Los judíos de Hervás Google Scholar

Hervás, Marciano de (2008) Judíos y Cristianos nuevos en la historia de Trujillo (Badajoz: don José María Pérez de Herrasti y Narváez). Judíos y Cristianos nuevos en la historia de Trujillo Google Scholar

Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, Barbara (1998) Destination Culture: Tourism, Museums, and Heritage (Berkeley: University of California Press). Destination Culture: Tourism, Museums, and Heritage Google Scholar

‘La estrella de Hervás’ de Miguel Murillo (2008), in Los Conversos Official Program (brochure). Google Scholar

‘La leyenda de un amor imposible representada para Los Conversos’ (entrevista a Miguel Murillo) (2008) La Aldaba (Periódico de Hervás) (April), 19. Google Scholar

Manzano Moreno, Eduardo (2000) ‘La construcción histórica del pasado nacional’, in La gestión de la memoria: La historia de España al servicio del poder, ed. Juan Sisinio Pérez Garzón (Barcelona: Crítica), 33–62. La construcción histórica del pasado nacional La gestión de la memoria: La historia de España al servicio del poder 33 62 Google Scholar

Martin Márquez, Susan (2008) Disorientations: Spanish Colonialism in Africa and the Performance of Identity (New Haven: Yale University Press). Disorientations: Spanish Colonialism in Africa and the Performance of Identity Google Scholar

Meyerson, Mark D. (2004) A Jewish Renaissance in Fifteenth-Century Spain (Princeton: Princeton University Press). A Jewish Renaissance in Fifteenth-Century Spain Google Scholar

Nirenberg, David (1996) Communities of Violence: Persecution of Minorities in the Middle Ages (Princeton: Princeton University Press). Communities of Violence: Persecution of Minorities in the Middle Ages Google Scholar

Nirenberg, David (2002) ‘Mass conversion and genealogical mentalities: Jews and Christians in fifteenth-century Spain’, Past and Present 174, 3–41. Mass conversion and genealogical mentalities: Jews and Christians in fifteenth-century Spain Past and Present 174 3 41 Google Scholar

Nirenberg, David (2003) ‘Enmity and assimilation: Jews, Christians, and converts in medieval Spain’, Common Knowledge 9.1, 137–55. Enmity and assimilation: Jews, Christians, and converts in medieval Spain Common Knowledge 9.1 137 55 Google Scholar

Nirenberg, David (2009) ‘The modern exemplarity of medieval Spain’, Paper presented at ‘Convivencia: representations, knowledge and identities (ad 500-1600) conference’, Madrid (27 May). The modern exemplarity of medieval Spain Google Scholar

Rohr, Isabelle (forthcoming) ‘Spaniards of the Jewish type: philo-Sephardism in the service of imperialism in early 20th century Spanish Morocco’, in ‘Revisiting Jewish Spain: Translations, Appropriations and Commemorations in the Modern Era’ (special issue), ed. Daniela Flesler, Tabea Linhard and Adrián Pérez Melgosa, Journal of Spanish Cultural Studies. Spaniards of the Jewish type: philo-Sephardism in the service of imperialism in early 20th century Spanish Morocco Journal of Spanish Cultural Studies Google Scholar

Rojek, Chris (1997) ‘Indexing, dragging and the social construction of tourist sights’, in Touring Cultures: Transformations of Travel and Theory, ed. Chris Rojek and John Urry (Oxford and New York: Routledge), 52–74. Indexing, dragging and the social construction of tourist sights Touring Cultures: Transformations of Travel and Theory 52 74 Google Scholar

Sendín Blázquez, José (1987) ‘Amor y sangre en la judería’, in Leyendas Extremeñas (León: Everest), 113–19. Amor y sangre en la judería Leyendas Extremeñas 113 19 Google Scholar

‘Unfavorable views of Jews and Muslims on the increase in Europe’, The Pew Global Attitudes Project, Pew Research Center, 17 September 2008, http://pewglobal.org/reports/display.php?ReportID=262 [accessed 20 May 2010]. Google Scholar

Urry, John (1995) Consuming Places (London and New York: Routledge). Consuming Places Google Scholar

Wolodarsky, Solly (1985) Los conversos: pieza teatral en dos partes (Madrid: La Avispa). Los conversos: pieza teatral en dos partes Google Scholar

Wolodarsky, Solly (2000) La conversa de Hervás (Madrid: La Avispa). La conversa de Hervás Google Scholar

Wolodarsky, Solly (2007) El judío de Hervás (Madrid: Hebraica). El judío de Hervás Google Scholar

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Author details

Flesler, Daniela

Melgosa, Adrián Pérez