Mapping myths of the medina : French colonial urbanism, Oriental brandscapes and the politics of tourism in Marrakesh
Author(s)Demerdash, Nancy Nabeel Aly
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Architecture.
Nasser O. Rabbat.
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Before the French Protectorate of Morocco was established in 1912, Marrakesh was both a major trading node in North Africa and one of the royal cities in Morocco. Yet as the number of colonists surged and the pieds noirs population settled in the ville nouvelle, Marrakesh's native inhabitants were relegated to the medina. The French mission civilisatrice bolstered segregationist aims and in the process, manufactured a Moroccan cultural heritage (in contradistinction to the preservation of a French heritage) that served to lure potential emigrants. With its burgeoning tourism industry, this colonial binarization of the urban layout and demography lives on in Marrakesh, resulting in the creation of a medina that is still marketed through an orientalizing lens, heralded as little more than an exotic spectacle. This study seeks to understand the contrived makings of a Moroccan cultural heritage, embodied in the monolithic medina, with respect to urban form. But the colonial constructs of old are far from obsolete; these myths of the medina are being adopted, appropriated, and reinvented by the current Moroccan Ministry of Tourism and its partners to satisfy foreign demand. Consumed in the form of what I call an "Oriental brandscape," Marrakesh is framed and famed to promise hedonistic pleasures. Such perpetuated representational tropes actually materialize the oriental fantasy for the consumer; consequently, Marrakesh has become more of a product than place. This study attempts to highlight that the modem manifestations of Moroccan cultural heritage are not discrete from its colonial constructions.
Thesis (S.M.)--Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dept. of Architecture, 2009.Includes bibliographical references (p. 131-143).
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Architecture
Massachusetts Institute of Technology