The Moroccan city: a quest for cultural memory in Francophone and Arabophone contemporary literature

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2 Scopus citations


This article focuses on representations of the city in 20th- and twenty-first-century Moroccan literature. In particular, this work concerns itself with the different social, historical, and political forces that together contribute to the construction of urban spaces, and it draws on a number of critical and theoretical fields, including cultural memory studies and literary studies, while at the same time considering different contemporary Moroccan urban structures from a spatio-temporal perspective. More precisely, this article addresses the city in Medieval, colonial, and postcolonial Morocco as a territory of individual and collective memory in Fās … Law cĀdat Ilayh (2003) (If Fez Returned to Him), a novel by Aḥmad al-Madīnī, and Le griot de Marrakech (2005), (The Griot of Marrakesh), a collection of short stories by Mahi Binebine. This study examines various cultural monuments, including the imperial city gates, the Mellah (Jewish quarter), texts both North African and Andalusi, and historical personalities, insofar as they function as lieuxdemémoire according to Pierre Nora’s usage of the term. These components of Moroccan cultural heritage function as manifestations of history through memory, rooted both in material and immaterial figures, and constitute national identity: an interfaith, multiethnic, and pluri-linguistic Morocco.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)40-61
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of North African Studies
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This article is based on my dissertation originally written in French ‘La ville Marocaine: une quête du vécu, de la mémoire, et des tiers lieux dans le roman du XXe et XXe siècles’ (‘The Moroccan City: The Quest for Lived Experience, Memory, and Third Spaces in the 20th and twenty-first Century Novel’) at the University of Oklahoma in December of 2018. I am grateful to my dissertation director and committee members at OU, to Cynthia Ruder, my mentor at the University of Kentucky, and to my colleague Jeorg Sauer for their feedback on my work. I am also greatly thankful to Emily Gottreich for giving me permission to reproduce an image of the Mellah of Marrakech, and to Georges Michel for his generous sharing of his extensive knowledge and rare documents related to the gates of the Imperial Moroccan city of Fez. Last but not least, I would like to thank the anonymous reviewers from the Journal of North African Studies; their extensive comments and constructive criticism have significantly enhanced the quality of this article.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • Individual and collective memory
  • Moroccanness
  • lieux de mémoire
  • mellah; medina gates
  • poetics of the Moroccan city

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Development
  • Political Science and International Relations


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