Traveling South: Agadir

Agadir MarinaIt takes only four hours and a half to reach Agadir from Casablanca. Except for the last stretch, the road is straight like an arrow and the scenery on both sides is pretty awesome. Before the highway was opened to traffic in the summer of 2010, travelers were forced to take the long arduous route south cutting through the plains of Dukkala and then either follow on the coastal road along the cities of El Jadida, Safi and Essaouira, or take the more rural trajectory through Chemaia, Chichaoua, Imintanoute and Argana.

les rencontres de l'histoireManichean Formations of Citizenship: The Moroccan Case

In this paper I  argue that citizenship is not only a culturally specific phenomenon but an evolutionary process fraught with tensions, traumas, and conflict. Citizenship becomes more efficient as a collective social value when it is coupled with awareness of the historical nature of the forces that shaped the society

Cape Spartel Lighthouse: 150 Years of Service

cap_spartel_tanger_10-lAs you drive westwards along the green hills past lofty palaces and villas concealed behind thick walls and tall trees towards the bushy cliffs which form the most pointed part of Africa on the north-west side, there suddenly unfolds a mesmerizing view of the sea below, stretching as far the eye can see; the Atlantic Ocean on the south and west and the Mediterranean on the east. The beauty of the scene is uplifting and were it not for the strong cold wind blowing on your face, you would surely love to stay longer.


The Last Storytellers: Homage to the Moroccan Halka Tradition

Readers of Washington Irving’s Tales of Alhambra (1832) will always remember the magical quality of the narratives and the juvenile excitement derived from dramatic portrayal of imaginary landscapes dominated by princes, cinderellas, hags, wizards, saints, genies and various mystical figures of angelic purity or demonic disposition.

Gaza under Fire

Missiles launched against GazaTens of thousands of Moroccans took to the streets in Rabat on Sunday 20 July in protest against the massacres of civilians in Gaza by a ruthless Israeli military. The scenes broadcast through TV channels showed Israeli missiles targeting homes of civilians without prior notice wreaking death and destruction on a population already suffering from a prolonged and unjust siege, and lacking the basic conditions of life.

A Year In Tabuk: Fresh Reminiscences

20140528_230051I left Tabuk some four weeks ago. When I boarded the plane from Jeddah to Casablanca, I had very mixed feelings about my year-long stay in Saudi Arabia. This has been a rather intense experience, but I certainly don’t regret my initial decision to go there, and to those who are at the point of committing themselves to a job in the country, I say go ahead, for beside the money you probably might enjoy your stay there if you know what to expect.

A Year In Tabuk: Arrival

Tabuk,_Saudi_Arabia_locator_mapHERE  I am in Tabuk in the northern part of Saudi Arabia some 400 miles from the Gulf of Akaba in Jordan and over 10 hours drive from Makkah. For the last seven months I have been teaching criticism, English fiction and grammar at Tabuk University. The only Moroccan on campus, I feel a little out of place. This has been my first visit to an Arab country and so far it’s been a life changing experience.

The Arab Spring: Three Years Later

Three years ago, a young and desperate Tunisian set himself to fire in protest against police tyranny. It was the spark of a civil strife that would spread fast to neighboring countries. The political vibrancy of the protests which took place in many North African and Middle Eastern cities remains baffling even to the most specialized observer. A lot of ink has been spilled already on the implications of these rapid upheavals for the peoples of the region in terms of democratization, economic stability, and the establishment of human rights.

Edward Said and Orientalism: A Reappraisal

Ten Years have elapsed since the death of Edward Said and over thirty years since his celebrated book, Orientalism appeared in print. During all these years, the book has never lost its intellectual appeal or failed to generate animated debate. It has gone through different editions and has been translated into more than twenty-five languages. The amount of critical attention it has received is extraordinary. Besides reviews, critical essays and full-length studies which attempted to explain and analyse the contents of the book, there has been a large number of international conferences devoted exclusively to the study of the epistemological and theoretical questions and problematics which Orientalism raised.

The Islamists at The Crossroads: The Case of Morocco

Could the military coup against the Islamist government in Egypt impact the fate of Justice and Development party (PJD) in Morocco? Two years ago, several commentators drew analogies between the youth movements in Egypt and Morocco.  Some even predicted that 20th February Movement would play a major role in the future political process in Morocco. The gradual shrinking of the protests following King Mohamed VI’s appeasing speech on March 9, 2011, however, showed that the movement was unable to sustain itself or continue to mobilize public opinion for a long time. The movement lacked both a political vision and strong organization.

The Islamists at The Crossroads: The Case of Egypt

 The recent military coup in Egypt which removed President, Mohamed Morsi from power has further perturbed the domestic political scene already sorely divided between the Muslim Brotherhood and their fierce opponents among liberals, former Nasserists, civil society organizations, youth groups, and former regime supporters. The international official reaction to the coup varied from tacit support to discreet and measured expressions of concern and calls for restraint. Few voices such as Tony Blair even tried to defend the coup by pointing out the vast popular rejection of Morsi in the streets and his failed economic policies which threatened to paralyze the country.

Morocco and US must not let recent spat harm their historic friendship

By Craig Considine

Craig ConsidineThe recent development of the Moroccan government opposing the US-led initiative to extend the directive of UN peacekeepers in the Western Sahara to human rights monitoring has caused friction between Moroccans and Americans. This spat threatens to harm a relationship which has been based in mutual respect and cooperation for over 240 years.

Vistas from Marrakesh and Beyond

Eurika riverWhen I heard of it, I had mixed feelings about the idea of a long weekend trip to Marrakesh organized for faculty members and their families. I knew the place well. I had stayed in Hotel Al-Andalus when we had a conference there last November. I don’t mind the free publicity. I particularly like the staff and food and the location of the hotel so close to the cafes and restaurants on Mohamed VI Avenue. Oh!  The soap and shampoo were of such a diminished size I simply didn’t bother to use them. I also regret there is no ironing machine in the rooms, but again you don’t need to be neat and immaculate in Marrakesh. You’d be just as fine with Jeans, T-shirt and sport shoes.

John Updike – The Comic Effect

john-updike There is something typically odd about John Updike’s fiction that reminds me of the comedian, David Larry. Perhaps it is the awkward situations he describes in his numerous novels or the sheer clumsiness of his characters. I’m thinking more of his penultimate novel, Terrorist (2006) which is a deplorable work, deeply flawed by its misinformed rendition of Islam, and full embracement of the right-wing ideology of the Bush era.

A Collegial Note

DSC02568In the course of the year 2012 I had the pleasure to know extraordinary people. I also had the misfortune to lose two of my dear colleagues while still in their prime of life, much to the regret of their relatives, students and colleagues. I’m still overwhelmed by a sense of void and unbelief as I go through old and recent pictures of these two wonderful people. I’m reminded that death is always lurking somewhere not far, and that life is a valuable and a wonderful gift if only we could appreciate the health and peace of mind with which we are often blessed.

Berber Village: A Fascinating Tale of Fieldwork Experience in Morocco

The first time I had leafed through the ethnographic account, Berber Village: the Story of the Oxford University Expedition to the High Atlas Mountains of Morocco was in the early 1990s when I was working on my BA monograph on early 20th century British fiction on Morocco in the American Legation library in Tangier. I had since become a passionate collector of antique books on Morocco. The edition of the Berber Village I bought many years later through Amazon was the original one published in 1959.

 The Moroccan Spring: The Background and the Prospects

The Moroccan Spring Whereto?

The Moroccan Spring Whereto?

It is difficult for a non-specialist much less for a foreigner to really understand how internal political affairs are evolving in a country like Morocco. Perhaps the most intriguing question is why this country has been spared the ravages of violence and destruction that have accompanied political change in neighboring countries, often sidetracking the so-called democratic process from its natural course, barring reforms and resisting popular demands for freedom, social and economic justice.

 Days in Stehat

Stihat kids posing for a photo

Stihat kids posing for a photo

Stehat  is a tiny village on the Mediterranean coast of Morocco situated some seventy kilometers away from Tetouan.  You need to zoom in the map to really locate  the path that stretches out from the national road N16  leading to a few dispersed blocks along the beach.  Only a couple of months ago Moroccan King Mohamed VI inaugurated the last of the three road sections known collectively as the Mediterranean Coastal Road connecting the city of Saidia toTangier via Tetouan.

Spirit of Ramadan

Foutour Ramadan is a special month. Not only does it mean a radical change in terms of eating habits, sleep hours, and other mundane activities, but it also entails a significant transformation at the spiritual level. Among Muslim adults these changes are natural and welcomed with enthusiasm.

An American In Tangier: Interview with Paul Bowles

BooksThis interview took place in Paul Bowles’ flat in Tangier during a visit I paid him in June 1996. I must acknowledge Alfred Yeager’s generous help in securing the meeting and, more still, in taking pains to convince Bowles to grant this interview. Upon realizing the purpose of our visit, Bowles, a frail figure in his mid eighties, confronted me by saying that nothing was more detestable to him than giving interviews.

The Long Way Ahead: In Search of an Integrated Human Development Policy in Morocco

In recent years there has been a growing governmental interest in developing infrastructure in rural areas of Morocco. The figures produced by the Human Development Index (HDI) have shown that Morocco has a long way to go to create viable environment for growth in remote villages in the Atlas and Riff mountains.

Janat MahidChanting Sufi Songs

There is something inexpressibly uplifting about the four Sufi songs I present below.  All of the four singers are Moroccan and their dulcet voices have drawn fans from many parts of the Arab World and even beyond……

Mohamed Choukri: The Voice of the Subaltern

Mohamed ChoukriAlmost any discussion of Mohamed Choukri’s work slips into (one is tempted to say degenerates into) an account of his own life and background and the moral value of his own writing. To a large extent, this has been the case of Paul Bowles too. For Bowles’ life and writing have always constituted attractive material for biographers and literary historians.  However, it is fair to say that Choukri’s life is a peculiar one even by the standards of an impoverished and illiterate villager family in the colonial times

Books I Read Last Summer: II- Gavin Maxwell’s Lord of the Atlas

Last week’s issue of Tel Quel magazine (12-18 May 2012) contained a special file on Pasha T’hami El Glaoui (1879-1956), the old powerful collaborator of the French Protectorate in Morocco. The cover page features an old man  dressed in traditional attire a little absorbed in wistful thoughts.

Thami El Glaoui

وداعا خيري / Farewell Khairi

المرحوم الأستاذ عبد الواحد خيري

المرحوم الأستاذ عبد الواحد خيري

 فقدت أسرة التعليم العالي واحدا من أعضائها النشطين وباحثا متمرسا في مجال اللسانيات وهو الأستاذ الدكتور عبد الواحد خيري صبيحة يوم الأربعاء رابع أبريل الماضي إثر حادثة سير مروعة أودت بحياته وحياة ابنه ذي العشر ربيعا. وقد نزل الخبر على زملاء الاستاذ خيري في كلية الآداب بنمسيك وعموم جامعة الحسن الثاني المحمدية  كالصاعقة حيث أن الفقيد كان يتمتع بعلاقات طيبة مع جميع الأساتذة والإداريين والطلبة. وبحكم منصبه كمدير لمدرسة الدكتوراه بالكلية فقد كان الأستاذ خيري متواجدا باستمرار بالمؤسسة لاتغادره ابتسامته ولامزحاته الطريفة.    ورغم انشغالاته الكثيرة ومسؤولياته العائلية، فقد كان الأستاذ خيري قريبا  …..

The Ominous Treaty of Fés (1912)

100 years ago, the French government forced a powerless sultan, Moulay Abdelhafid  to sign a shameful treaty allowing two European nations:  France and Spain with the connivance of England, Italy, and Germany to  reduce  yet another free and sovereign nation to the servitude and tyranny of  imperial power. …

One Woman's MoroccoBooks I Read Last Summer: I- Marvine Howe’s One Woman’s Morocco

Marvine Howe’s recent book, Morocco: The Islamist Awakening and Other Challenges (2005) has attracted much more attention than her earlier book, One Woman’s Morocco. There are quite obvious reasons for this. The recent book addresses issues of greater topical interest such as the rise of so-called political Islam in Morocco and the risk ….

Picturing Atlanta

AtlantaDowntown Atlanta is anything but the traditional town center. After three weeks touring college campuses in the four corners of the Georgia State in early 2009: Dahlonega, Milledgeville, Bainbridge, Savannah, Statesboro, Macon and back to Atlanta, I was looking forward to a day off before boarding the plane back to Casablanca. I had rented a room at one…..

Reflections on Casablanca

These are some of the interjections you commonly hear from first time visitors of the giant city and occasionally even from those who have spent their lifetime in it, revealing a mixture of  resentment and awe vis-à-vis the bustling life and heavy traffic that flows endlessly through the streets of Casablanca. With a population exceeding 3.5 million, Casablanca …

Tangier, Myth and Reality

Tangier in 1669, engraving by Wenceslaus Hollar

Over centuries, Tangier had constituted the battleground for different warring races and nationalities. Indeed, the history of the city stretches back to the Greeks and lapses into myth. The legend has it that Antaeus, the offspring of a union between Neptune and Earth, lived in its vicinity. His towering height and invincible force ultimately proved mortal when, in a fight, Hercules lifted him off the ground….

حديث الوطن ومراثي الإعلام

يروى أن سيدة ذميمة الوجه كانت كلما نظرت إلى المرآة وساءها شكلها وكثرة البثور في بشرتها همست لنفسها ممتعضة: ياله من زمن، حتى طلاء المرآة طاله الغش.  ومقام هذه الطرفة أن الواقع السياسي المغربي اليوم وارتباطه بالأوضاع الاجتماعية والاقتصادية غالبا ما ينظر إليه عبر نظارات ملونة تكاد تحجب الحقيقة البينة والصادمة وهي أن الأمور على غير مايرام. فرغم انتفاء الخطابات الجامدة خلال الحملة الانتخابية وخفوت حدة الجدالات العقيمة والصاخبة التي ميزت الحملات الانتخابية السابقة إلا أن بروز فريق مما يسمون مجازا محللين سياسيين محايدين من خلال القنوات التلفزية وعلى بعض صفحات الجرائد الورقية والإلكترونية أعطى الانطباع بأن وضعا سياسيا استثنائيا يتشكل في المغرب

Orwell’s Marrakech: Desolate Spaces, Dehumanized subjects

Considering his relatively short, hectic life and the rapidly shifting, if also profoundly disheartening political and militarily realities of his time, these paradoxes in Orwell might in the end become justifiable, imputed perhaps to an enduring sense of scepticism of any sustained political attitude. After all, his was a generation of warring ideologies: Socialism, Capitalism, Nazism, Fascism, and various forsms of linguistic, ethnic and religious nationalisms….

Elias Canetti, The Voices of Marrakesh

Elias Cannetti’s narrative set in Marrakech during the mid 1950s describes a city still under the shadow of French colonial presence. The dates of publication of the original German edition (1967) and English translation (1978, 1982) may give the impression that the text deals with a post-colonial moment. However, a close reading of the text reveals the continuing presence of French colonial structure dominating the vast desolate landscape of house….

خارج الزمان زالمكان: وقفة تأمل في رحيل إجوارج سعيد /(Obituary Essay on Edward Said)

قبل بضع سنوات كتبت مقالا تأبينيا إثر وفاة المفكر والناقد الفلسطيني الكبير إدوارد سعيد نشر بجريدة الصباح المغربية بتاريخ 20   أكتوبر 2003  عدد 1099. حينها كان تأثير كتابات سعيد وأعماله النقدية في الساحة العربية محدودا للغاية ومنحصرا في التعاطي المتشنج مع آرائه السياسية حول مسلسل التفاوض الذي قاده الرئيس الفلسطيني المغتال ياسر عرفات. وأذكر حينها كيف تم حضر تداول كتب سعيد داخل الأراضي الفلسطينية رغم دفاعه المستميت على ثوابت القضية الفلسطينية ومواصلتة التصدي للخطاب العدائي الصهيوني في الإوساط الإعلامية والسياسة في الولايات المتحدة وأروبا. اليوم هناك اهتمام متزايد بكتب ومقالات سعيد الأدبية والنقدية أفرز ترجمات جيدة لمجمل أعماله إلى اللغة العربية

2 thoughts on “Archives”

  1. Kari – I have only spent a few minutes here on your blog, but I had to write how much I like it! I especially like the essay on Casa, and look forward to reading the other entries! – David

  2. Redouane Abbad said:

    Stumbled across your blog… and learnt so much about my beloved city Tangier. Keep up the good work 🙂

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