My research interests—while always focused on Moroccan musics—have expanded to set these musics and their pedagogy within the framework of colonialism. Subject to the French and Spanish Protectorates from 1912-1956, Morocco has continued to exhibit traces of lingering coloniality, even after independence. This entangled scenario involves not only a Eurocentric dominance which seeks to shape Moroccan cultural policy into its own image, but the complicity of indigenous elites which have affiliated with the colonizers’ ethos in embracing what is perceived as “superior” and “modern” expressions of culture. My dissertation research and fieldwork address the efficacy of decolonization efforts in countering persistent post-colonial ideology and map out the process of restoring indigenous musical culture in Morocco.
Living in Morocco during my fieldwork year, after a long absence, opened my eyes to the impacts of colonialism, post-colonial elite influence, and globalization on the praxis of indigenous music culture. I experienced this sea-change first hand through my relationship with Lahcen Laaroussi Tanjaoui, pictured below, and the Jebli ensemble he leads. As I encountered the ensemble and its audiences throughout a variety of performance venues, the marginalization of Jebli music and its practitioners became apparent. My dissertation grapples with the viability of the music culture of the Jebala region in a stratified society, particularly vis-à-vis the Andalusian tradition closely linked to the Fassi elite. I ground my narrative in Lahcen’s role as an individual culture-bearer, and how he gives voice to these soundings from the periphery. From that granular perspective, my study widens to the communal, societal, and transnational levels, concluding with the Jajouka phenomenon originating in the Ahl Srif.