Looking-glass game or the semiotics of otherness in Andalucia contra Berberia by Emilio Garcia Gomez

Anna Gil-Bardají*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleResearchpeer-review


This article analyses the semiotic construction of the Other in the peritexts of three Medieval Arabic chronicles from al-Andalus (the Arabic name for the Iberian Peninsula governed by Muslims from 711 to 1492), published under the title Andalucia contra Berberia by the outstanding Spanish Arabist Emilio Garcia Gomez. Few studies have dealt, from a critical perspective, with the discourse (or discourses) concerning Arabic cultures and societies constructed by European academic Orientalism in general, or by the Spanish Arabism in particular. Assuming that translation, given its hybrid nature, plays a crucial role in the construction of othering discourses, this article attempts to analyse the identification and othering strategies used by Garcia Gomez on the basis of a methodological approach that combines Genette's notion of paratext (1987), the notions of text, context and pretext proposed by Widdowson (2004 and 2007) and the "Model of semiotic construction of the Other" developed by Carbonell (2003 and 2004), all within the general framework of Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA). The results of this analysis show a significant othering of Berber and/or African references. This is further reinforced by Garcia Gomez identification with al-Andalus, which pivots between his own identification with the medieval authors of the three chronicles, and the parallels he establishes between medieval al-Andalus and the Spain of the first half of the 20th century.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)374-398
Number of pages25
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 25 Jun 2019


  • Al-Andalus
  • Discourse
  • Orientalism
  • Other
  • Semiotics
  • Translation


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