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The Creation of the Moroccan Colonial Archive, 1880-1930

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In 1900, France possessed little reliable ethnographic knowledge about Morocco other than elite gossip and anecdotal details. Thirty years later, an extensive colonial archive on Moroccan society had been compiled. This article explores the origins of the Moroccan colonial archive and traces its connections to the French experience in Algeria. It surveys its chief publications, including the Archives marocaines, Archives berbères, and Villes et tribus du Maroc, which together with studies on Morocco in the Revue du monde musulman and the Bulletin du Comité de l'Afrique francaise et du Maroc, comprised the core of the Moroccan colonial archive. Although marked by the deforming lens of orientalism, the Moroccan colonial archive represents a formidable intellectual achievement. By imagining a "traditional Morocco", it provided the chief justification for the French protectorate (1912-56) as well as the template for the colonial state. It continues to inform the image of contemporary Morocco.
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Keywords: Algeria; Colonial Archive; Ethnographic State; Morocco; Orientalism

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: March 1, 2007

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