“Spanish Citizenship and Responsibility for the Past: The Case of the Sephardim, Moriscos, and Saharawis”
In 2015, the Spain passed a law expediting citizenship for the descendants of the Sephardic Jews expelled in 1492, but not to the descendants of the Moriscos expelled in 1609. In this essay, I use Spain’s 2015 citizenship law as a test case for assessing three normative models for linking citizenship with collective responsibility for the past: reparations for historic injustice; the principle of coercively constituted identities; and remedial responsibility. I argue that the first two models confront intractable philosophical problems that are circumvented by the third model, remedial responsibility, which prioritizes contemporary suffering and looks to the past only to identify agents who must provide a remedy. However, remedial responsibility subordinates the obligation to expedite citizenship to descendants of the Sephardim and the Moriscos in favor of the Saharawis, citizens of the former Spanish colony of Western Sahara who still languish in refugee camps forty years after decolonization.
Politics, Groups, and Identities
Link to Published Version
James, Michael. "“Spanish Citizenship and Responsibility for the Past: The Case of the Sephardim, Moriscos, and Saharawis”." (2020) .