Hispano-Moroccan Mimesis in the Spanish War on Tetouan and its Occupation (1859-62)
The 'War of Africa'/'War of Tetouan' (1859-60) and the subsequent Spanish occupation of Tetouan (1860-62) have commonly been considered a historical landmark signalling the end of Morocco's independence. While it is hardly arguable that Spain consolidated its position in Morocco throughout the second half of the nineteenth century thanks to the favourable conditions established in the treaties that followed the end of the war, the goal of this article is to nuance the reification of the power of the colonisers and the powerlessness of the colonised that many historiographical narratives have purported. I will analyze the political change that took place among the Spaniards who were on the ground during the initial stage of the occupation of Tetouan. Despite mainly relying on Spanish sources, I will also highlight the ways in which Moroccan diplomacy, the city's inhabitants, and local practices shaped this transformation by creating anxieties that permeated the Spanish colonisation. I argue that the Spaniards on the ground increasingly empathised with - and even admired - the local population, and consequently constructed notions of Hispano-Moroccan similarity. This colonial mimesis went hand in hand with the perception of Moroccans as unyielding, which ultimately led the Spanish to admit the difficulty, even impossibility, of their colonialist venture.