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The old city of Fez dates back more than 1200 years; it has been the symbol of conservatism, traditions and authenticity. Today, it is introduced to the global market which to some extent makes its identity blurred. Aspects of globalization are seen everywhere. In this article, I will begin with defining what globalization is and then discuss its effects on the local culture. This article is concerned primarily with highlighting one of the main facets of globalization in the medina, the increasing phenomenon of Hollywood film sellers.

Globalization according to Thomas Friedman, is the integration of capital, technology, and information across national borders, in a way that is creating a single global market and, to some degree, a global village.[1] Globalization is mostly defined as a “borderless world,” Bryan Turner in his book Globalization East and West (2010) argues however that “the world is only borderless for the privileged few, but for the great majority of humanity it is a tightly bordered and highly regulated world.”[2] This statement is true to some extent, but in the case of pirated Hollywood films, they are easy to get and available to all in the old Medina of Fez. CD sellers are found everywhere, selling the latest films (mostly in French) to the Moroccan customers. Turner quotes Moore saying that “The life of the individual anywhere is affected by events and processes everywhere.” (Moore, 1966: 482). “Globalization” in this framework refers then, to the process by which the “world becomes a single place” (Robertson, 1992), and hence the volume and depth of social interconnectedness are greatly increased. Globalization can also be seen as the compression of social space according to Giddens (1990). His definition of globalization was influenced by the so-called “spatial turn.”[3]One feels that these Hollywood films do not belong to that space; they disturb and intrude on its authenticity. It’s like pieces of the whole world all jump into a place where they do not fit, and the irony is that the seller is a Moroccan. It is this Moroccan who becomes the vehicle for bringing these global products into the streets and shops of the Medina.

Globalization is usually confused with Americanization or Westernization; it is viewed by some as “Westernization in general and Americanization in particular.”[4] In the process of developing this discussion, it is useful to understand the difference between what is globalized and what is Americanized. Turner begins the second chapter of his book with a series of questions “is globalization simply a euphemism for concepts such as Americanization or Westernization? Can there be an “Asian globalization”? Yes, I think globalization is more of an umbrella term. It is confused with Americanization because it is mostly American products such as Coca Cola, jeans and McDonald’s that are spreading all over the globe. Friedman counters this argument stating that “…globalization is in so many ways Americanization: globalization wears Mickey Mouse ears, it drinks Pepsi and Coke, eats Big Macs, does its computing on an IBM laptop with Windows 98. Many societies around the world can’t get enough of it, but others see it as a fundamental threat.”[5]In my point of view, globalization does not necessarily mean Americanization; America just happens to have more influence on the globe at this time. On the other hand, America itself is introduced to global elements such as Asian Restaurants and the famous Sushi bars that are everywhere in the country.

Globalization can have serious effects on the local culture and identity. Hollywood films for example might have a dangerous influence on the morals and behaviors of Moroccan teenagers. Moreover, it has an impact on the space of the Medina; it profanes the sacred space of the Medina. This can be seen in a whole shop of films with lewd images that cover the wall facing the Bouananiya mosque. Turner supports this idea as he writes that “The processes of globalization, including its often negative consequences, have appeared to be inevitable and all-embracing. No society, however small and remote, could escape entanglement with such global cultural, political and economic processes.”[6] Globalization could lead to the transformation of the society changing the practices and shaping the values to fit within the global culture. For Anthony Giddens, globalization “is really about the transformation of space and time.”[7] Obviously the space of the Medina is transformed, the scene of CD shops everywhere would have never been observed a decade ago. Today, however, it has become normalized to look at such profane images on the covers and even buy films from these shops, whereas a decade ago people would have been highly offended by the very same movies. Globalization shapes people’s everyday life, “their mentalities, habits, values, preferences, choices and actions.”[8]


Interestingly, globalization is not a total erasure of the local culture. The local culture participates in shaping itself in accordance with these foreign products. They would buy a Hollywood film with two or more Moroccan films. Turner argues that:

Globalization does not mean the removal or erasure of local culture. Local cultures under the conditions of globality have become as important as global culture itself. Local culture does not surrender itself unproblematically to forces from outside; rather it absorbs as it valorizes its own distinctiveness. At the turn of the twenty-first century, what is local and what is global are becoming increasingly uncertain. The near-erasure of the distinction between the local and the global as spatial categories has given way to a disjuncture between conceptual and spatial polarities.[9]

To conclude, globalization is no longer understood as either global or local, rather it is an interaction between the global and local simultaneously or “glocal” in Robertson’s terminology.

[1] Thomas L. Friedman, The Lexus and the Olive Tree, (Random House: New York, 2000).

[2] Bryan Turner, Globalization East and West, (SAGE: London, 2010), p. 3.

[3]Ibid., 8.

[4]Ibid., 19.

[5] Thomas L. Friedman, “Angry, Wired and Deadly,” New York Times, 22 August 1989, A25.

[6] Bryan Turner, Globalization East and West, p.1.

[7]Ibid., 22.

[8]Ibid., 36.

[9] Ibid., 33.

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IMG_4232The Medina of Fez is 12 centuries old; it has been the symbol of conservatism,  traditions and authenticity. Today, it is introduced to the global market. Aspects of globalization are everywhere. This creates a certain kind of ambivalence, for example an American tourist walking in the narrow street of the medina would find it peculiar to look at Century 21 followed by “Medina Real Estate” knowing that Century 21 is an American Real Estate agency par excellence. So coming from America to see an American agency in the old medina of Fez could be a shock.  Some aspects of globalization are rather parasites that disturb the authenticity of the oldest Medina of Morocco.

Globalization is the process where the boundaries are broken so that there is interchange with the whole world, via means of communication, tourism, commerce, and migration. However, it could damage a nations’ identity. Globalization leads to the transformation of the society, it changes the practices and shapes the values to fit within the global culture, a culture that is shared and has almost no sense of belonging or specificities.

There are many facets of globalization in the Medina: Western products, Western music, American and European agencies, satellite dishes, air conditioning, cell phones, internet cafes, banks, antennas, to name a few. In this article, I will focus on two clear icons of globalization in the Medina, the cyber cafés and Western Union agencies. The Medina, the supposedly live museum is now all furnished with global icons. Decades before, it would have been so strange to see such signs in the Medina.

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Cyber cafés are very symbolic being located and scattered all over the narrow streets of the Medina. Internet is the means by which one accesses the whole globe, discovers new cultures, learns about new practices, and also listens to foreign and/or Western music. Coming out from the cyber café, one brings out with him/her this culture and introduces it to others, a greeting of “Hi!” and the “cool” culture, for example, a star’s haircut, etc. 

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Western Union and such exchange agencies facilitate drawing out and exchanging money for the tourists from different countries. They have access to their accounts wherever they are, including the Medina. It has become a normal and expected service to find in the Medina, in one’s targeted language and in all foreign currencies.

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Interestingly though, many global icons were re-shaped and re-considered by the Moroccan consumers to fit their basic needs and make of them a somewhat Moroccan product or at least a Moroccan style one. This could be justified by the interaction of the local and the global to give a ‘glocal’ product, even in terms of language.

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Globalization does have an impact on the local culture. The medina of Fez as a local space has become connected with the globe. With globalization, identities could be detached from their local community.


* All photos are taken by the author.
* Click on the photo to enlarge it.
* Write a comment if you have a question and/or feedback.

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By Mariana Ottaway & Meredith Riley


The article is basically an argument against the Moroccan monarchy. The author is calling for a constitutional and democratic monarchy, believing that “there is no indication that Morocco is becoming a democratic country.”(3)  She puts herself as an authority over the destiny of the Moroccan government, and even goes far to claim that “talk of democratization in Morocco is moot”(3) unless the power of the king is limited. She criticizes the king for being the dominant religious and political authority in Morocco and the main leader of what she calls “the top-down reform” process.

She talks about Hassan II and the four reforms he introduced: improved respect for human rights, a limited increase in the power of parliament, enhanced opportunities for political participation by parties and civil society, and some attempts to curb corruption. And then how these reforms were continued by Mohamed VI.  She insists that Morocco needs a constitutional monarchy and then suggests some ways to achieve it, “the first is to enumerate the measures necessary to transform the political system into one that is more democratic” and the second is “to envisage the political process that might lead to the enactment of these measures.”(10) She only assumes that democracy is good, she never gives one reason why democracy should be applied in Morocco or explaining why it is better that a monarchy, she just takes it for granted.

The author seems to be so overwhelmed with the supposedly Western democratic system that she is willing to see it applied everywhere, with no understanding of the culture, civilization, and heritage. She suggests that Morocco needs assistance from the outside primarily “the United States, individual European countries, and the European Union as a whole, to encourage a process leading to democratization.”(4) The author, however, seems to be powerfully reflecting on the Moroccan Monarchy and offering so many “solutions” while she doesn’t even hold a Master’s degree!

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Why is Africa a destination for Western missionaries? Do they really come to share the Gospel? What is Africa for them, an ‘empty’ land full of ‘savage’ people living in jungles and very far from Civilization?

Ok. Lets see!

augustine (Africa)







(An article coming soon)

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Hello America,

I am African. I live in North Africa, Morocco. I am not black. My ancestors were never enslaved. I don’t live in a jungle nor in the desert. (And by the way I have never seen a desert so far). We don’t go to school on camels. We don’t trade women for camels. I don’t have a sword.

Morocco is an Arabic-speaking country with Islam as the official religion. Still We have Jews, Christians and, may be to your surprise, secular atheists.  

Americans, why do you advise someone visiting Morocco to watch Casablanca film? Do you seriously consider it as a reliable source? knowing that it has NOTHING to do with Morocco except for the title. Besides it is a 1942 film, HELLO, Morocco is also in 2011!

Americans, do you know where Morocco is situated? Do you know that Morocco is not a part of the Middle East? It is rather across the strait of Gibraltar from Spain. Morocco is the closest African country to Europe.

North Africa and the Middle East

Concerning women. We don’t have belly dancers. Not all Moroccan women are veiled. Women here interact in the social life. Women occupy many jobs side by side with men. We sit at the same table to eat.

For the record: Morocco was the first country to recognize America as a country in 1796. Mr. Obama knows this.

Please! Come to Morocco and judge for yourselves, you might be pleasantly surprised.

Salam from Morocco.

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This article is on Samuel Huntington’s book The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order (1996). To begin with, it is worth mentioning that this book is based on an essay by Samuel Huntington entitled: “The Clash of Civilizations?” with a question mark in the end; it was published in the summer of 1993. However, when the essay was developed into a book it has apparently become more certain of a clash of civilizations (for the author puts no question mark), as if Huntington no longer hypothesizes or predicts a clash of civilizations but rather witnesses it. He argues that this clash of civilizations within the new world order will be rather cultural not ideological; it will occur between different civilizations that is to say between different religious groups and cultures not between traditional ideological nation-states. “In conflicts between civilizations” he argues, “the question is ‘where are you?’” he believes that increasingly the interaction between people on both sides has become seen as a clash of civilizations.

Samuel Huntington admits in a lecture (1992) that his book is not entirely original; the title phrase itself is derived from Bernard Lewis’s essay entitled The Roots of Muslim Rage (1990) as Edward Said shows, besides the idea of this book had already been tackled by Francis Fukuyama in his book The End of History (1989), and importantly in an article it is believed that the Moroccan professor Mehdi Mendjra was the first one to deal with the theory of the clash of civilizations in his book La Premiere Guerre Civilisationnelle (1991).

The book, Clash of Civilizations, is divided into 5 main parts, and 12 chapters. The 5 parts are entitled as follows:

  • Part I: A World of Civilizations;
  • Part II: The Shifting Balance of Civilizations;
  • Part III: The Emerging Order of Civilizations;
  • Part IV: Clashes of Civilizations; and finally
  • Part V: The Future of Civilizations.


This article will focus on the main points in this book as well as Edward Said’s reaction on the book, entitled as “The Myth of ‘The Clash of Civilizations’.” Samuel Huntington’s The Clash of Civilizations is about the conflicts of different civilizations when they come into contact as the title indicates. During the cold war the world was divided into the First, Second and Third Worlds. Now it is more meaningful to group the countries in terms of culture and civilization. Huntington defines civilization as a cultural entity that is to say: villages, regions, ethnic groups, nationalities, religious groups. He adds that civilization is “the highest cultural grouping of people and the broadest level of cultural identity.” In short, civilization is culture at large. Huntington explains that people usually define themselves according to their cultural identity; they “define themselves in terms of ancestry, religion, language, history, values, customs, and institutions.” A resident of Rome for example may define himself as a Roman, Italian, Catholic, Christian, European, and Westerner. Identity, therefore, is multi layered. Civilization is the broadest level of belonging. A civilization may include a large number of people, without being a state, as it is the case with China, while Japan is both a civilization and a state. Civilization may include several nation states such as: The Arab World, Latin America, and The European Union. Huntington argues that Civilizations are dynamic; they rise and fall, divide and merge and they also disappear.

According to Huntington, what will cause a clash of civilizations is the cultural incompatibility of different civilizations rather than an ideological or nation conflict, even if they have commonalities that unify people. Edward Said, however, argues that it is not a clash of civilizations but rather a clash of definitions. Said goes further to call it “The Myth of ‘The Clash of Civilizations’.”

“Universal civilization”, as explained by Huntington, implies “the cultural coming together of humanity and the increasing acceptance of common values, beliefs, orientations, practices, and institutions by peoples throughout the world.” In other words, it is a shared culture, for example all cultures share that murder is evil. The term “Universal civilization” could also be used to refer to what civilized societies have in common, such as cities and literacy. In today’s world, the “universal civilization” is rather universality in human interest especially goods, such Hollywood films and Coca Cola. On the other hand, language, English for instance has become a universal language. A Japanese banker and an Indonesian businessman talk to each other in English does not mean that either one of them is being Anglofied or Westernized.

The world is divided into the civilized ‘us’ and the barbarians ‘them,’ Muslims from their own perspective divided the world into Dar al-Islam and Dar al-Harb, the dominant division, however, is between the “West” and the “rest.” Huntington assumes the unchanging character of the duality between ‘us’ and ‘them;’ it makes it obvious that Huntington does not write from a neutral objective position but is himself “a polemicist whose rhetoric not only depends on prior arguments (…) but in effect perpetuates them,” as Said states. Huntington homogenizes the Muslim Arab world to one entity and claims that they have nothing in common except they are non-western, which is not true; for there are many sub-civilizations that exist within Islam; Said agreed that “a billion Muslims, scattered to five continents, dozens of different languages and traditions and histories,” while criticizing the notion that Civilizations are monolithic and homogeneous. Basically, the world is divided between a Western one and a non-western many. For Huntington, Christianity and Islam are two missionary religions that attempt to spread their beliefs and expend their followers, this for him is seen as a threat to the Christian West, and it causes hate between the two religious groups. Muslims see the West’s culture and religion as corrupted and as “the godless West”.

Huntington argues that power is shifting from the West to non-western nations, particularly after “the victory in the Cold War (which) has produced not triumph but exhaustion” as he states. The Western civilization is in decline. There is a shift from the center to the periphery; and the non-western nation that will replace the West.

The West is composed of two major components, Europe and North America, this latter, historically speaking, represented freedom, equality and democracy, while the former represented oppression, hierarchy and backwardness. The term “the West” is now universally used to refer to what used to be called Western Christendom. The West is thus the only civilization identified by a compass direction and not by the name of a particular people, religion, or geographical area. Huntington uses Western civilization to refer to both European and North American civilization, “despite its serious disabilities,” as he states.

He states that “Western civilization is both Western and modern, non-Western civilizations have attempted to become modern without becoming Western.” Islamic nations, in particular, have become modern but without being Westernized, There is a cultural independence from the West, “we will be modern but we won’t be you.” Is modernity associated with the West? Are all Westerners modern? Huntington proofs that civilizations are becoming more religious, religion fills in the gap of cultures. People mostly identify themselves with religion.

Said highlights the centrality of an ideology, the West’s, around which, for Huntington, all the other civilizations turn. Said states that Huntington concludes his essay as well as book with a brief survey of what it is that the West must do to remain strong and keep its components; he shows what the West can do to keep winning. For Huntington, other civilizations will necessarily clash with the West, where there is democracy for example that is not compatible with the Islamic world. Said thinks that Huntington is misleading in what he says and how he puts things.

Said goes further to argue that Huntington is part of an advocate of one Civilization of all the others, obviously the Western one, to which he belongs. Huntington defines Islamic Civilization reductively as if his only concern is that Muslims are non-Westerners. According to Said, Huntington writes of the conflict between civilizations as a crisis that he wants to manage rather than resolve. He writes therefore as a crisis manager not as a student of Cultures and Civilizations nor as a reconciler between them.

Said wonders whether this is the best way to understand the world we live in? Is it wise to produce a simplified map of the world? Doesn’t this deepen conflict? What should be done to minimize civilizational conflicts? Do we want a clash of civilizations?

Said argues that cultures are not the same; within every culture there is an official Culture that speak on the behalf of all. Each culture defines its enemies, what stands beyond it and threatens it. Said unfolds a point which is missing in Huntington’s argument that in every official Culture there are alternatives unorthodox strengths that contain many anti-authoritarian themes in them that are in competition with the official Culture, these can be called the counter Culture.

Said finally argues that the too much attention to managing and clarifying the clash of civilizations obliterates a dialogue between them. Obviously, Edward Said opts for co-existence between civilizations and “try[ing] to come to terms with the ‘Other’ society or Culture that seems so foreign and distant.

To recapitulate, Huntington main arguments are as follows:

  • ·Differences between civilizations are real and important;
  • ·Civilization consciousness is increasing ;
  • ·The conflict between civilizations will supplant ideological and other forms of conflict;
  • ·International relations historically again played out within Western civilization will increasingly be derationalized and become a game in which non-western civilizations are actors and not simply objects;
  • ·Conflicts between groups in different civilizations will be more frequent, more sustained and more violent and conflicts between groups in the same civilization;
  • ·Successful political security and economic international institutions will develop within civilizations but with rare exceptions; and
  • ·The relation between “the West, and the rest” will be highly conflictual focusing initially on the clash between the West and Islam.

To conclude, Huntington’s book was highly influencing and seen as a prophecy of the conflict between the Islamic and Western civilizations, especially after the 9/11 events and the war in Iraq. Reading, or better to say following Huntington’s arguments in his book The Clash of Civilizations we feel a kind of anxiety of the collapse of the Western Civilization and the rise of the Muslim Eastern one, especially that Islam is expanding demographically and as Huntington says that the greatest fault lines between civilizations, which is true with the crescent-shaped Islamic bloc of nations from the bulge of Africa to central Asia, is one of the main causes of a clash of civilizations. These Muslim borders are seen as a threat to the West and to its hegemony. Therefore, the surviving of the West is based on preserving its identity. The book in short, is about the clash between the Western Civilization and the Islamic one, and Islam where the burden goes, as stated by Edward Said.

Edward Said’s lecture “The Myth of the Clash of Civilizations” Part I, the other 3 parts are on YouTube.

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