What Is Moroccan Literature? History of an Object in Motion

In: Journal of Arabic Literature
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  • 1 Associate Professor, Departamento de Estudios Árabes e Islámicos, Universidad Autónoma de MadridMadridEspaña
  • | 2 Associate Professor, Program in Comparative and World Literature, University of Illinois at Urbana-ChampaignILUSA
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What is Moroccan literature, where and when does it happen, and in what languages? In this essay, we tackle these questions by tracing the evolution of the definition of “Moroccan literature” from the first half of the twentieth century until the present. The earliest works of Moroccan literary historiography, such as ʿAbd Allah Kannūn’s al-Nubūgh al-maghribī fī al-adab al-ʿarabī (1937), situated Moroccan literature within the Arabic literary tradition and treated Moroccan literature as an important element in the “Arab-Islamic” identity promoted by the Moroccan nationalist movement. Since Moroccan independence in 1956, this definition of Moroccan literature has come under increasing pressure, as the languages and imaginative geographies of Moroccan literature have expanded to include new voices. In what follows, we consider these debates through a survey of a diverse corpus of literary-historical works that throw into question the linguistic, temporal, and spatial borders of Moroccan literature (and of Morocco itself).

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