Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2005
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
History, Georgetown University
Of Moors and Men: The Construction of Masculinities on the Spanish-Moroccan Frontier, Ceuta, 1640-1799

This project will examine the formation of hegemonic and subordinate masculinities in the Spanish North African enclave of Ceuta, a coastal town that has served as commercial port, military garrison, and presidio, between 1640 and 1799. Today, Ceuta remains a key strategic location in a bitter territorial struggle between Spain and Morocco. While on the one hand official historiographies and popular commemorations and displays celebrate the town's "multicultural" and "Mediterranean" identity, contemporary ceuties also inspire themselves in a repository of memories and narratives that have their origins in the town's Early Modem period and emphasize Ceuta's key role as a highly militarized frontier buffer against Moroccan territorial aspirations. In this process, misperceptions on gender and masculinity frequently intersect with the categories of ethnicity and religion. Understanding how these notions of hegemonic and subordinate masculinities came into existence in the Early Modem period is essential to unraveling the complex interaction of gender, ethnicity, and religion in today's Ceuta. Methodologically, this study will combine the most recent contributions to the sociology and anthropology of masculinity with a micro-historical analysis of life in the frontier. Combining an ethno-historical approach with a close textual reading of archival sources, the project will analyze patterns of violence as they relate to the construction of a militarized frontier gender order, as well as to the construction of masculinities through bodily performance. Finally, this project will analyze how hegemonic and subordinate notions of masculinity that have their origins in the Early Modem period have impacted present-day notions of self-identity amongst contemporary ceuties in the context of the town's grappling with its increasingly diverse ethnic and religious identity.