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Violence and Avoiding Violence between Catholics, Jews and Muslims in Spanish North Africa, 1859-1874

Spain’s declaration of war against Morocco in 1859 provoked a wave of national enthusiasm and solidarity among Spaniards. There was frequent reference to the "Conquista" and the "Reconquista", stressing the Catholic "essence" of Spanishness and recalling violence between Spanish Christians and Muslims in order to mobilize people against the enemy and to legitimize new acts of violence. Sara Mehlmer’s project focuses on the impact that Spain’s self-perception as a Catholic nation had on contact between Catholics, Jews and Muslims in and around the Spanish exclaves of Ceuta and Melilla in North Africa. Such contact increased significantly in the second half of the 19th century. To what extent can we speak of a specific willingness to use violence against members of other religions? What kind of violence – physical, verbal or symbolic – was used? How were acts of violence legitimized and what type of reactions did they provoke? What strategies were used to avoid religiously motivated violence? Did the memory of the seven centuries of shared history between Spanish Catholics, Jews and Muslims – the so-called "convivencia" between the "Conquista" and the "Reconquista" – counteract the tendency toward violence?