Associate Professor, Chair
Humanities Building 1055
Phone: (631) 632-9668
Daniela Flesler (Ph.D. Tulane University, 2001) is Associate Professor and Chair in the Department of Hispanic Languages and Literature. She specializes in Contemporary Spanish Literature and Cultural Studies, with a focus on contemporary Spain’s negotiations of cultural identity in relation to its Jewish and Arab heritages and the ways these negotiations affect the lives of Jewish and Muslim minority populations in Spain today.
Her book The Return of the Moor: Spanish Responses to Contemporary Moroccan Immigration (Purdue UP, 2008) examined the anxiety over symbolic and literal boundaries permeating Spain’s reception of Moroccan immigrants. It argued that Moroccans constitute a “problem” to Spaniards not because of their cultural differences, as many claim, but because they are not different enough. Perceived as “Moors,” they conjure up historical ghosts that continue to haunt the Spanish imaginary, revealing the acute tensions inherent to Spain’s liminal position between Europe and Africa.
She has co-edited with Tabea Linhard and Adrián Pérez Melgosa Revisiting Jewish Spain in the Modern Era (a special 2011 issue of the Journal of Spanish Cultural Studies, republished in an expanded edition by Routledge, 2013). The volume, with essays by Andrew Bush, Lou Charnon-Deutsch, Michal Friedman, Isabelle Rohr, Tabea Linhard, Edgar Illas and Alejandro Baer, explores the different and contradictory ways in which Spain as a nation has tried to come to terms with its Jewish memory and with the absence/presence of Sephardic Jews from the nineteenth century to the present.
She also co-edited , with Michal Friedman and Asher Salah , “Genealogies of Sepharad (‘Jewish Spain’) ,” a special issue of the journal Quest. Issues in Contemporary Jewish History 18 (2020) , which can be accessed digitally here . The volume contains essays by Paloma Díaz-Mas, Allyson Gonzalez, Asher Salah, Tabea Linhard, Harry Kashdan, Hazel Gold, Rina Benmayor and Dalia Kandiyoti, and Flesler and Pérez Melgosa’s essay “Spain’s Jewish Genealogies in the ‘Sephardi Portraits’ of Daniel Quintero.”
Her book The Memory Work of Jewish Spain, for which she won an ACLS 2014-15 Fellowship and a 2017-18 NEH Fellowship, was published in December 2020 with Indiana University Press. Co-authored with Adrián Pérez Melgosa, it explores the phenomenon of the “re-discovery” of Spain’s Jewish heritage. Through oral interviews, visits to museums, newly reconfigured “Jewish quarters” and Jewish memory sites, literature, cultural performances, tourist promotional materials and speeches from public figures, the book explores the recent cultural and political initiatives that seek to memorialize and re-connect Spain with its Jewish past in the context of the long history of Spain’s ambivalence towards its Jewish heritage. The book has won the 2021 National Jewish Book Award, in the category Sephardic Culture, sponsored by the Jewish Book Council.