Degree Year

2020

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Department

Politics

Advisor(s)

Eve Sandberg

Committee Member(s)

Zeinab Abul-Magd
Erik Inglis

Keywords

Urban planning, Morocco, Culture

Abstract

What is the political and economic significance of old buildings, neighborhoods, and monuments in contemporary Moroccan cities? I address this question by studying historic preservation efforts of state and non-state actors in two Moroccan cities: Tetouan and Rabat. In this study, I argue that two separate elite coalitions of state officials, architects, artists, academics, and activists in the Moroccan cities of Tetouan and Rabat frame their historic architecture and urban spaces (from before Moroccan independence) as demonstrating the city and nation’s enduring cosmopolitanism. By framing their urban heritage, and subsequently their history as cosmopolitan, this elite coalition asserts that Morocco has always been multicultural, tolerant, and open to new ideas. This allows Moroccans to more effectively insert themselves into contemporary global capital and cultural flows while simultaneously promoting a sense of national and local identity. This identity is grounded in the idea of “Moroccan exceptionalism,” where locals define Morocco as a unique crossroads of cultures between the Middle East, Africa, and Europe. Ultimately, by using the historic cityscape as proof of Morocco's authentic and enduring cosmopolitanism, these coalitions view present-day globalization as reinforcing Moroccan identity. This pushes back against the widely-held idea that globalization erodes national borders and identity.

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