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Modern mosque lamps: electricity in the historic monuments and tourist attractions of French colonial Fez, Morocco (1925–1950)

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During the French Protectorate, administrators enacted laws to preserve pre-twentieth-century Moroccan cities for Western tourists’ appreciation. However, as residents’ desires for contemporary technology grew, officials also sanctioned the modernization of some inhabited historic monuments. In at least one city (madīna), Fez, the structures included centuries-old religious boarding schools, the medersas in French language documents. The following article draws upon the administrative records of conserving and modernizing the Fez madīna to explore how the installation of electricity in its medersas resulted in technology and styles that blended and expanded the legal definition of Fassi Moroccan visual character. Inhabitants’ responses and redefinitions are additionally considered. This article therefore brings into conversation the histories of technology and French colonial urbanism while augmenting each discourse with analysis of local actors and innovation within a madīna under aesthetic regulations.
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Keywords: French colonial; medersa; modernization; mosque lamps; preservation

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 June 2012

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