Three profs from orient did come. West, to Tangier. Our visitors: three Algerian professors from the University of Guelma.
Guelma, located in Algeria's Far East, is about as far from Tangier as you can get in Algeria. The University's name – 08 Mai 1945 – is a giveaway to its location, near the town of Setif, which on VE Day 1945 saw a massacre of Algerian nationalists demanding rights from the France they had just fought to defend. It was the spark that a decade later launched Algeria's war for independence.
It was thanks to a suggestion by a former director of our sister research center in Tunis that Professors Ladi Toulgui, Hamid Boudechiche, and Abdelhak Elaggoune, of the University's American Studies program, sought out TALIM.
Always on the lookout for networking opportunities, we set up an impromptu brainstorming session on inter-Maghrib exchanges and the use of TALIM's research facilities by Moroccan, Algerian, and other scholars.
Responding to the chance to interact with their Algerian colleagues was an impressive gathering of Moroccan and American academics, based in both Tangier and Tetouan. Familiar as they are with the Legation's strengths and weaknesses, we wanted to hear from them where we could improve. Provide more research materials in Arabic (one of our interlocutors, Dr. Mhammed Benabboud and his Asmir Association, has an entire library of cultural preservation titles). Reach out more to Tetouan, the half of Tangier/Tetouan's Abdelmalek Essaadi University where there is more of a concentration of the disciplines – history, art, social sciences – that have resonance at TALIM.
For us, the stress on inter-Maghrib exchange was a chance to encourage more Moroccan applicants for the AIMS Maghribi Grant program, which tends to see Morocco as a favored destination for Algerian, Tunisian, and other Maghribi scholars, but which has traditionally seen a disproportionately low number of Moroccan applications.
In the case of the Algerian professors, it was the University of Guelma which sent them to Morocco, without the benefit of AIMS or other international grants. Guelma to Tangier, via Tunis – not the most direct route, but certainly an encouraging opening to the world of American Studies programs in the Maghrib, which should be a natural counterpart to study of the Maghrib by American scholars.
We thank Doctors Elaggoune, Boudechiche, and Toulgui for making the trek to Tangier and TALIM, but also for helping us focus on that rich area of potential collaboration, using one of our main strengths: our history, our building, and its original purpose.
American studies at TALIM… at the historic Legation which saw the first overtures by Revolutionary-era America to the Arab and Muslim world. American studies with a difference: Maghribi scholars examining the long history of American involvement in Morocco and North Africa.
Sometimes it takes outsiders looking in to shine a light on a potentially rich stream of research topics. TALIM welcomes Algerian, Moroccan, Tunisian, Libyan, Mauritanian – and American! – researchers in American studies. We've got the stories – lots of them.