Jewish Spatial Practices in Barcelona as Claims for Recognition

Open Access Journal | ISSN: 2183-2803

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Jewish Spatial Practices in Barcelona as Claims for Recognition


  • Julia Martínez-Ariño Department of the Comparative Study of Religion, University of Groningen, The Netherlands


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Abstract:  In this article, I argue that the spatial practices of the contemporary Jewish organisations in Barcelona’s medieval Jewish neighbourhood represent claims for public recognition. As a small and quite invisible minority within the diverse city population, Jewish groups increasingly claim that their presence in the city should be recognised by political authorities and ordinary citizens alike. They do so through a series of spatial practices around the medieval Jewish neighbourhood, which include (1) heritage production, (2) the renaming of streets and (3) the temporary marking of urban spaces with Jewish symbols. I have grouped these practices under the umbrella concept of ‘place-recovering strategies’ because all of them attempt to ‘recover’ the lost urban environments inhabited by their Jewish predecessors before they were expelled from the Iberian Peninsula in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. By recovering I do not mean a mere passive restoring of urban spaces and places but rather a creative process in which historical narratives and myths of the past play a crucial role. Drawing on qualitative fieldwork, I argue that these place-recovering strategies are part of a quest for the visibility, legitimacy and recognition of Jews.

Keywords:  Barcelona; heritagisation; Jewish communities; place-recovering; recognition; urban spaces

Published:   20 August 2020


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DOI: https://doi.org/10.17645/si.v8i3.3012


© Julia Martínez-Ariño. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.