Charles Hirschkind’s lyrical and majestic new book The Feeling of History: Islam, Romanticism, and Andalusia (University of Chicago Press, 2020) represents a profound work of retrieval that launches and executes a stinging rebuke of an ontology of Europe that presumes its exceptionalism. The central focus of Hirschkind’s study is Andalucismo, or a discursive, aesthetic, and political tradition that seeks to disrupt the alleged cleavage between medieval and modern Spain by recovering the deep and penetrating imprints of Muslim Iberia on contemporary Spanish society. To engage Spain’s Muslim and Jewish past not as a bygone and irrelevant relic but as indelibly entwined to the present requires a form of attunement to the past that is activated by the sensoria and suspicious of historicist rigor. In the course of this poetically charged book, one meets a range of thinkers from across the political spectrum, and travels in unexpected avenues of inquiry such as the centrality of Flamenco to Andalucismo.
The Feeling of History combines piercing attention to the productive importance of the sensoria in encountering the past with an astonishingly lucid critique of dominant strands of the discipline of history. What emerges from this exercise is not only a richly textured interrogation of a hugely important though often lampooned tradition of Andalucismo, but also a politically urgent reconsideration of modern secular conceptions of how the past must engage and make claims on the present.
SherAli Tareen is Associate Professor of Religious Studies at Franklin and Marshall College. His research focuses on Muslim intellectual traditions and debates in early modern and modern South Asia. His book Defending Muhammad in Modernity (University of Notre Dame Press, 2020) received the American Institute of Pakistan Studies 2020 Book Prize. His other academic publications are available here. He can be reached at email@example.com. Listener feedback is most welcome.
SherAli Tareen is Associate Professor of Religious Studies at Franklin and Marshall College. His research focuses on Muslim intellectual traditions and debates in early modern and modern South Asia.