• Erotics of the Exotic: Orientalism and Fictionalization of the Mooress in the Early Modern Mediterranean

    The representation of women in the realm of Islam in early modern Spanish literary, religious, historical, and political texts provides a very significant key to the perception of the “Other” in Spain. These women were categorized according to their radically different circumstances: in Spain they were Moriscas (where they were the objects of an internal colonization), but in the Ottoman Empire (which was seen as a threat to Christian Europe) they were Moras and Turcas. Muslim women were systematically portrayed as highly sexualized subjects, sometimes in combination with the mystified harem and the slave market. In a tone ranging from contempt and disgust to ravishing desire, Muslim women were depicted as sensual and sexually accessible creatures. This Occidental fantasy was a means of establishing an imaginary domain over a powerful rival. Such representations of women were themselves essentially Orientalist, even when they occurred prior to the colonial and postcolonial relationship between the West and the Orient, suggesting that Orientalism itself ought not to be exclusively linked with colonialism and postcolonialism.

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