The Moroccan Soul: French Education, Colonial Ethnology, and Muslim Resistance, 1912-1956

The Moroccan Soul: French Education, Colonial Ethnology, and Muslim Resistance, 1912-1956

The Moroccan Soul: French Education, Colonial Ethnology, and Muslim Resistance, 1912-1956

The Moroccan Soul: French Education, Colonial Ethnology, and Muslim Resistance, 1912-1956

Synopsis

Following the French conquest of Morocco in 1911 the French established a network of colonial schools for Moroccan Muslims designed to further the agendas of the conquerors. The Moroccan Soul examines the history of the French educational system in colonial Morocco, the development of French conceptions about the "Moroccan soul," and the effect these ideas had on pedagogy, policy making, and politics.

Based in large part on French conceptions of "Moroccanness" as a static, natural, and neatly bounded identity, colonial schooling was designed to minimize conflict by promoting the consent of the colonized. This same colonial school system, however, was also a site of interaction between colonial authorities and Moroccan Muslims and became a locus of changing strategies of Moroccan resistance and contestation, culminating in the rise of the Moroccan nationalist movement in the 1930s. Spencer D. Segalla reveals how the resistance of the colonized influenced the ideas and policies of the school system and how French ideas and policies shaped the strategies and discourse of anticolonial resistance.

Excerpt

This book is about French education in Morocco during the “protectorate,” that is, the period of colonial rule, from 1912 to 1956. I am neither French nor Moroccan, yet I cannot pretend to be a disinterested observer in the matters discussed herein. As a former teacher at the Casablanca American School, I was for years a participant in a contested project of Western education in the Kingdom of Morocco. I say contested because it was not always clear whose agenda or agendas I and my colleagues were serving there: that of the U.S. Department of State, which provided a modicum of funding and had helped found the school; that of the Europe-based International Baccalaureate, which provided the curricular guidelines; or those of the mostly wealthy, mostly Moroccan parents for whom we were hired help, charged with the task of preparing their sons and daughters for a future in the Moroccan elite. I did not feel like a colonizer there. Not always.

As an academic historian, I have striven to keep my history tightly bound to the footnotes, tying my descriptions, narratives, analyses, and conclusions to a close reading of the documentary evidence. However, I acknowledge two prejudices that pervade this book. the present study focuses on French imaginings of Moroccanness as a static, natural, and neatly bounded identity. the reader will readily note my distaste for such concepts. It was at the Casablanca American . . .

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