Mary Halavais, Professor of History, has been invited to participate in the 12th annual Mediterranean Research Meeting at the Robert Schuman Center for Advanced Studies at the European University Institute, Florence, Italy, in April 2011.
Halavais will be part of a working group on pre-modern attachment to lands in the Islamic Middle East and North Africa.Her own research focuses on those of Muslim ancestry within Spain in the early modern era. She attended a previous Mediterranean Research Meeting with the sponsorship of the Berkeley-Stanford Joint Center for African Studies in 2003.
Her paper looks at the attitudes of and toward those of Muslim descent who return to Aragon ( Eastern Spain) after the 1609-11 expulsion. She considers three examples from archival documents, and then looks at a final case, that of the 'Salee Rovers," pirates from the African town of Sale (across the river from Rabat in present-day Morocco).
These children and grandchildren of those expelled from Spain continue to speak Castilian, and insist on their Spanishness, even as they attack Spanish treasure ships.
The paper is based in a human rights concept, that of "right of return" which has been explicitly encoded by the European Union and states that individuals have a right to return to the land of their ancestors.
While Spain has affirmed this right for those who trace their ancestry to Jews expelled from Spain in 1492, it refused to do so for those of Muslim descent in 2006, when a bill was introduced to grant right of return to those whose ancestors were Muslims and Moriscos expelled from Spain in the 17th century.