The Musical Bridge—Intercultural Regionalism and the Immigration Challenge in Contemporary Andalusia

Daniele Conversi* (Corresponding Author), Matthew MacHin-Autenrieth

*Corresponding author for this work

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The ideals of tolerance and cultural exchange associated with the interfaith past of Muslim Spain (al-Andalus) have become a symbol for Andalusian regionalism and for the integration of Moroccan communities. Nowhere is this more keenly felt than in the context of music. In cities such as Granada, Moroccan and Spanish musicians actively promote the ideals of intercultural dialogue through the performance of repertoires such as flamenco and Arab-Andalusian music that allegedly possess a shared cultural history. In this article, we examine the interrelationship between music and ‘intercultural regionalism’, focusing on how music is used by public institutions to ground social integration in the discourse of regionalism. Against a backdrop of rising Islamophobia and the mobilization of right-wing populist and anti-immigration rhetoric both within Spain and internationally, the authors consider how music can be used to promote social integration, to overcome Islamophobia and to tackle radicalization. We advance two arguments. First, we argue that the musical interculturalism promoted by a variety of institutions needs to be understood within the wider project of Andalusian regionalism. Here, we note that musical integration of Spain’s cultural and historical ‘Other’ (Moroccans) into Andalusian society is promoted as a model for how Europe can overcome the alleged ‘death of multiculturalism’. The preferential way to achieve this objective is through ‘intercultural regionalism’, envisioned as the combination of regional identity-building and intercultural interactions between communities that share a common cultural heritage. Second, we assess some of the criticism of the efficacy of al-Andalus as a model for contemporary intercultural exchange. Combining approaches in political science and ethnomusicology, we focus on one case study, the Fundación Tres Culturas (FTC). Through interviews with figures within the FTC, we examine why this model has become partly insufficient and how it is borne out in the sorts of musical activities programmed by FTC that seek to move beyond the ‘andalusí’ myth. We conclude by recognizing the continuing regional and international importance of this myth but we question its integrating capacity at a time of radical political, economic and environmental upheaval.
Original languageEnglish
Article number5
Number of pages19
Issue number1
Early online date30 Dec 2019
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding: Some of this research received funding as part of the project ‘Un modelo de prosopografía parlamentaria en perspectiva comparada’ (HAR2014-53974-P), and the European Research Council-funded project ‘Past and Present Musical Encounters across the Strait of Gibraltar’ (MESG_758221).
Acknowledgments: We would like to warmly thank Tariq Modood for kindly providing highly relevant advice on the issue of multiculturalism versus interculturalism. Also we would like to thank members of the Fundación
Tres Culturas for their insights and time, and the reviewers for their useful comments.


  • nationalism
  • regionalism
  • interculturalism
  • Andalusia
  • Andalusi music
  • heritage
  • migrations
  • coexistence


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