In 1898, Spain lost the Philippines, as well as Cuba and Puerto Rico, that is, the last of its colonies in the Americas. These events fundamentally shifted Spain’s place on the world stage and with them, most historians bring to a close their studies of Spanish imperialism. But the ‘Disaster of 1898’ did not end colonial engagement outright. Spain still possessed, as one contemporary put it, ‘a few inhospitable tiny islands in the gulf of Guinea, a few inches of the north Moroccan coast and half a dozen or so crags bearing the sinister name of outposts’. This module explores the history of Spanish empire building in these places, particularly in North Africa.
Between 1912 and 1956, members of the Spanish monarchy, army, and political elite argued for a new era of imperialism in North Africa, which was realized with the creation of a protectorate in Morocco. In consolidating their foothold in North Africa, the Spanish precipitated a violent jihad, were forced to re-consider the state’s relationship to Muslim and Jewish communities, and became entangled in talks with Hitler about power politics in North Africa. In looking at the protectorate, as well as Spanish entanglements in North Africa more generally, this module will raise questions about Spain's long relationship with Africa and its renewed sense of an 'African destiny' in a turbulent twentieth century. It considers the ways in which Spain’s colonial activities in North Africa further helped/hindered the creation of ties with the emerging Arab nations of the post-WWII period. In other words, we will increasingly situate Spain and Spanish politics in a world context, thinking about how the historian might begin to write a global history of this period.