Book: The Religious Body Imagined
Chapter: 5. Lope’s El Hamete de Toledo: The Infidel’s Body as Conquered Land
Set in the aftermath of the Moriscos expulsion decree, El Hamete de Toledo by Lope de Vega has found a new relevance on stage and in the political debates linked to the current immigration crisis. This paper aims to rethink the current victimization of Muslims as seen in the version presented by AlmaViva Teatro, a Spanish company that used the tragedy of Early Modern Spain to connect to a contemporary audience, thirsty for social justice. To this end, I will focus on the treatment of Hamete, a Moor imprisoned in Spain and whose body becomes the symbol of the Other to be conquered. As such, along the play, his body is vilified, dehumanized, chained and tortured. The culmination of this process coincides with the final act, the moment of his conversion, but also of the physical dismemberment of his body, a brutal ritualistic sacrifice in the name of eternal salvation.