Elisabeth Bolorinos Allard JRF Research
Elisabeth Bolorinos Allard: How cultural identity is defined in relation to ethnicity, language, and faith in colonialist and nationalist ideologies
My research centres on the question of how cultural identity is defined in relation to ethnicity, language, and faith in colonialist and nationalist ideologies. My first book -which was awarded the Association of Hispanists of GB publication prize for 2018- examines Spanish visual and textual portrayals of Muslim and Jewish cultures in colonial Morocco in the early twentieth century, drawing out questions about Spain’s own cultural identity that emerged as a result of its contact with North Africa. My current project explores the varying definitions of race in Spanish fascism from its literary and philosophical origins to its ideological expression during the Spanish Civil War. I also convene ‘The Long History of Identity, Ethnicity, and Nationhood’, a network based in the Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities.
What is a monument? What do monuments tell us about a society’s ideas about race and cultural lineage?
The word ‘monument’ is usually applied to material objects designed to visually commemorate a person or event or structures which have become relevant to a social group as a part of their remembrance of a historical moment or cultural heritage. However, texts such as epic poems, national histories, and literary anthologies also honour and immortalise specific individuals or histories. They often serve the same purposes of narrating heritage, legitimising power, and sacralising the subject. Should they not also be viewed as monuments?
My current research project is a study of monuments that commemorate the transnational Hispanic community or ‘race’ as this community was defined by its proponents, from 1892 to 1939, both within the framework of Spanish nationalism and outside of it, as the concept is contested and re-commemorated across the Iberian Peninsula and Hispanic Atlantic in texts and images that unsettle its ethnic, linguistic, religious, and political boundaries. I broaden the definition of ‘monument’ to include epic poems, national histories, and literary anthologies that celebrate pan-Hispanic identity and explores how visual and textual monuments interact with each other in their commemoration of certain individuals and historical moments. I am specifically interested in what monuments tell us about a society’s ideas about race and cultural lineage. All racist ideologies, whether they speak of race explicitly or implicitly, are ultimately concerned with protecting and advancing specific group lineages; the process of monumentalising, like racism, seeks to make lineages immutable. The fact that monuments have become highly contested sites in current debates over the problem of systemic racism in the west clearly demonstrates their significance in delineating racial boundaries.