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 Africa, 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 persons, 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.
Throughout this 30 CATS undergraduate second-year module we will see how the Spanish cooperated and competed with other European powers in North Africa, especially with the French, but also with Italy and Germany. Moreover, it considers the ways in which Spain’s colonial activities in North Africa further helped/hindered to create ties with the emerging Arab nations of the post-WWII period and with Latin America. 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.