Saturday, October 29, 2016

Archaeological Preservation in Aghmat - An important Location of Moroccan Medieval History

Here is a piece from the Archaeological Institute of America on a project they are supporting to restore parts of Aghmat, an important town in Moroccan history.  Another short musing about Aghmat in French from Zamane magazine can be found here.

 AIA and Hilton Worldwide Award Site Preservation Grant to Moroccan Site
October 7, 2016

The Medieval site of Aghmat, located at the base of the High Atlas Mountains in the Ourika Valley, was the capital of the southern districts of Morocco and the center of Berber control of the region.

The city was a key location for commercial, political, and religious exchange in the Middle Ages and despite the relocation of the capital to Marrakech in the eleventh century by the conquering Almoravids, Aghmat carried on as an important religious center and as a strategic link between the Sahara and the rest of Morocco.

For over ten years, Ronald Messier, Professor Emeritus at Middle Tennessee State University and Director of the Moroccan-American Project at Aghmat has been excavating four of the most important monuments in the central part of the city: the hammam (public bath), grand mosque, the adjoining ablution hall, and the royal palace. The excavations have elucidated Aghmat’s historical trajectory from independent city-state, to imperial capital, to major commercial-religious center and its significance to the history and culture of Morocco and western Islam.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

The Continuing Influence of the 1960s and 70s Moroccan Cultural and Literary Magazine Souffles

Here is an article from al-Fanar on the cultural magazine Souffles and its continuing influence in artistic and academic circles. As the article states, " issues of the iconic magazine in French and in Arabic are available online through the web site of Morocco’s national library."  Stanford University Press published an English-language anthology of the magazine, Souffles-Anfas: A Critical Anthology from the Moroccan Journal of Culture and Politics that can be found here.

A Long-Shuttered Moroccan Magazine Still Wields Powerful Influence

Ursula Lindsey / 19 Apr 2016

Scholars from around the world gathered at Morocco’s national library in Rabat earlier this month to discuss the impact of a historic cultural magazine. Considered so subversive in its time that its founders were imprisoned for conspiring to overthrow the state, the iconic magazine Souffles (”Breathes”) continues to fascinate Moroccan intellectuals and artists and is increasingly the focus of international research.

The avant-garde magazine, published in French and Arabic, was founded by a group of young friends who were also some of the country’s most talented poets, writers and visual artists. They included the poets Abdellatif Laabi and Moustapha Nissabouri, the writers Driss Chraibi and Taher Ben Jalloun, the painters Mohamed Melehi and Farid Belkahia, and many more. The magazine also developed contacts and contributors elsewhere in the region, such as the Syrian poet Adonis.

The magazine was published from 1966 to 1971, a very turbulent time in Morocco’s
modern history, when King Hassan II faced public protests, leftist opposition and coup attempts, and reacted by unleashing a fierce repression—including arrests, assassinations and torture—that came to be known as “the years of lead.”


Thursday, February 25, 2016

Moroccan Cultural Center to Open in Paris 2018

Here is an article from the Art Newspaper on the planned Moroccan Cultural Center that will open in Paris in 2018. Completely funded by the Moroccan government and unfortunately, to be built on land where there currently stands the historically important home of the anti-colonial Association des Etudiants Musulmans Nord-Africains (Association of Muslim North African Students) until the 1980s.

France to get its first Moroccan Cultural Centre in 2018

 by Victoria Stapley-Brown  |  20 February 2016

The Royal government of Morocco will fund a €6.7m Moroccan Cultural Centre, due to open in Paris in late 2018, Le Monde reports. The plan was announced on Wednesday, 17 February at the Institut du Monde Arabe in Paris, in the presence of the King of Morocco Mohammed VI and the French president François Hollande.

The architect, Tarik Oualalou, has been working with the Paris mayor’s office and other government bureaus for two years on the project. 
Full Article

Friday, January 22, 2016

The Happy Marriage - a novel by Tahar Ben Jelloun

Here is a piece from the Independent on a new novel by  Tahar Ben Jelloun that has been translated into English. Its about a not so happy marriage between a Fessi man
and an Amazigh (Berber) woman from Southern Morocco.  His novels always seem to catch your attention, but we sometimes wonder who is Ben Jelloun's intended audience.


The Happy Marriage by Tahar ben Jelloun, trans. André Naffis-Sahely, book review: 'Living hell' for husband and wife

Tahar ben Jelloun's thumpingly ironic title fronts the tale of a long, fractious and toxic partnership

by Boyd Tonkin
Thursday 21 January 2016

Tolstoy begins Anna Karenina with the questionable claim: "All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way."

If what applies to families also goes for the marriages that make or break them, readers of fiction may beg to differ. At least since the age of Tolstoy, Flaubert and Henry James, suffering couples in the novel tend to run to type.

Tahar ben Jelloun, the powerful and prolific Moroccan-born novelist who migrated to France in 1971, knows all the pitfalls of his chosen genre. His thumpingly ironic title fronts the tale of a long, fractious and toxic partnership, a "living hell" for both husband and wife. The latter acknowledges: "We were not made to be together". So how does Ben Jelloun, always a resourceful and versatile storyteller, renovate this shop-worn material? Be patient, wait and see.

In 2000, a distinguished Moroccan painter has a serious stroke in Casablanca. Stricken by the immobility that diminishes him from a "brilliant, elegant and celebrated" artist to a helpless invalid who sees "a Francis Bacon painting" in the mirror, he has all the time in the world to reflect on his creative and emotional life.

His recovery inches forward at a glacial pace. Enlisting a friend as his amanuensis, he uses this enforced hiatus to compose a memoir. It swiftly descends into an embittered indictment of his wife, their relationship, marriage itself.