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Iberian Empire in the Maghreb

(p.79) Chapter 3 Oblivion
Death in Babylon
Vincent Barletta
University of Chicago Press

If narrative accounts of the first and last moments of the Portuguese empire in Morocco can be characterized by their deliberate focus on human mortality and the phenomenological substratum of embodied interaction—especially between Iberian Christians and North African Muslims—then it is Alexander the Great who gives these accounts teeth and serves as their guiding historical and moral frame. While it may be an exaggeration to state that the Portuguese colonization of Morocco was theorized as an explicitly Alexandrian enterprise in the same sense that the colonization of Hormuz and parts of India were, it is also difficult to ignore the ways in which, for example, the Greco-Roman history of Alexander's conquest of Persia gives shape to Portuguese efforts to narrate the conquest of a territory that was to them marked at once by “oriental” strangeness and vicinal familiarity.

Keywords:   human mortality, Iberian empire, Alexander the Great, Portuguese colonization, Greco-Roman history, conquest

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