Back in 2012, I
was granted a scholarship by the US Department of State to go study for a full
academic year in an American high school. I was ecstatic as I was going to
travel abroad for the first time. Not only that, but I was going to the ‘best
country in the world’.

Being an Middle
Easterner in the US is not an easy thing. I was faced with stereotypes and
prejudices about every aspect of my life. Most of the people I met seemed to
have a well-established idea of what it is to be “Middle Eastern”. I tried to
refute and explain how even within the MENA region there are numerous cultures
with each one being distinct from the other: however, my efforts rarely paid
off.

My experience in
the US was pretty eye opening yet it raised many questions.  Questions I didn’t have answers for. However,
during my years of study at the university, we discussed subjects like
identity, culture, representation as well as other very interesting
subjects. These discussions, though haven’t really answered my questions, have
somewhat paved the way for me to critically and analytically look at these
situations. To deconstruct and decode the said and unsaid to make meaning out
of it.

This research
will be my first attempt at academically discerning a sensitive subject for the
peoples of the MENA region. The subject of my study is the Representation of
Moroccans in English Travel Narratives in the 18th and 19th
century. More precisely, I will be working on John Frazer’s book “The Land of
Veiled Women: Some wonderings in Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco”1
where he documents a trip he took through Algeria first, Tunisia next and
finally Morocco. The writer dedicated the final chapter for the city of
Tangiers. I have chosen the latter to conduct my study.

Theoretical
Framework:

In my book of choice, “The land of veiled women:
some wonderings in Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco” by John Frazer2,
the writer starts describing the city of Tangier from the outside in.

Throughout the story, the writer repeatedly uses
metaphors in his description of the city and its people. The most notable
metaphor in the chapter I will be working on in my research was the opening
sentence where the writer compares the city of Tangier to a female child: “…It
is the last of the Oriental cities. And this last child of the East with
nothing lying beyond but unknown waters of the Atlantic-stands in regretful
pose. Her face is turned back eastward. All the cities of her lineage have greeted
the sun before she greets it…”3

I have decided to use David Spur’s book “The
Rhetoric of A Nation” 4as
a guide in my study of the literary text and most precisely I will be focusing
on the following themes:

·        
Classification

·        
Debasement

·        
Negation

·        
Naturalization

·        
Surveillance

Historical
Context:

The 19th century was a turning point in
Moroccan history as it was marked by an increased interest by European
countries in Morocco and a weakening of the rule of the Alaouite. Up until that
point, Morocco managed to remain independent throughout the 18th and
early 19th century despite the Ottoman empire’s expansion throughout
North Africa as well as the French and British expansion in the region. The 19th
century produced many travel narratives written by foreigners in Morocco. These
foreigners were sent by their governments to Morocco on a quest to document as
much as possible about Morocco and Moroccans. These narratives provided a great
source of information for government officials and army generals in their
planning of the conquest of Morocco.

Unfortunately, towards the end of the 19th
century-Early 20th century, and after two treaties signed by major
European countries, the middle regions of Morocco were put under French
protectorate while Spain claimed the extreme North and South of Morocco.
Tangier remained as an international zone.

Resistance of the European powers was fierce and
relentless. While the colonial powers managed to put down the resistance, the
latter played an important role in slowing down the expansion of the colonial
army throughout Moroccan territory. After the death of organized armed
resistance, other forms of resistance consisting of bombings, assassination and
manifestations came into play and played a huge role in the eventual
independence of Morocco in 1956.5

1 Frazer John, The Land of
Veiled Women (London, New York, Toronto and Melbourne: CASSELL AND COMPANY,
LTD, 1913)

2 Frazer John, The Land of
Veiled Women (London, New York, Toronto and Melbourne: CASSELL AND COMPANY,
LTD, 1913), 269.

3Spur David, The Rhetoric of A
Nation(Durham and London: Duke University Press, 1993)

 

5″History of Morocco.” Wikipedia.
March 19, 2015. Accessed November 24, 2017.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Morocco#European_influence_(c._1830_%E2%80%93_1956).