Mediterranean Crossroads: The 2016 AIMS Conference

The 2016 AIMS Conference, titled “Mediterranean Crossroads: Spanish-Maghribi Relations in Past and Present” kicked off on Saturday May 14th at the Grand Hotel Villa de France, with three panels that cast a new light on the history and people of this region.

The first panel, chaired by Emily Gottreich of UCLA, featured three speakers that studied Hispano-Maghrebi connections in the past and present. First up was Víctor Morales Lezcano of the UNED in Madrid on a historiographical approach to titles dealing with Spanish-Moroccan relations from 1956 to 2015. Then Gonzalo Fernández Parilla of the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid gave a presentation that asked us to reconsider the “rhetoric of specificity” in Spanish-Maghrebi relations. The panel ended with Miloud Barkaoui of Badji Mokhtar University in Annaba, who spoke on Barça-Madrid fandom in Algeria and its implications.

The second panel of the inaugural session, chaired by David Stenner of UCLA,  highlighted “memory” in Hispano-Maghrebi relations. Jaafar Ben El Haj Soulami of Abdelmalek Essaâdi University in Tetouan spoke on the presence of Gibraltar in Moroccan works from 1704-1956. Badiha Nahhass of the Ecole de Gouvernance et d’Economie in Rabat, presented on the discourses and challenges of memory when it comes to Spain and the Rif. Eric Calderwood of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign closed the session with a talk on two prominent figures buried together in the Tetouan cemetery: Al-Manzari and Torres.

The last panel explored migration in the Mediterranean and was chaired by Léon Buskens of NIMAR in Rabat. Sofiane Bouhdiba of the University of Tunis offered us a view of Spanish refugees in Tunisia in 1939. Catherine Therrien of Al Akhawayn University in Ifrane explained the many paths that Spanish migrants take when settling for a new life in Tangier. Finally,  Isabella Alexander of Emory University in Atlanta told us about the plight of sub-Saharan Africans who risk their lives and identities for a fresh start in Europe.

After the talks, participants were invited to a cocktail reception at the Legation, where they were able to continue to flesh out their ideas, while enjoying a cool breeze on the terrace.

Day two of the conference was just as promising as day one. The first panel, chaired by  Mohammed Hatimi of FLSH Fès-Sais explored the history of the Spanish protectorate. Ouissam Hanni of University Mohamed V in Rabat delved into Spain’s economic policy towards the Jews of Northern Morocco between 1912 and 1956. Next, David Stenner of UC Berkeley introduced us to the world of anti-colonial student activists in northern Morocco in the period between 1930 and 1943. Bernabé López García of the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, closed the panel with his talk on the Spanish Civil War and the Control Committee of the Tangier International Zone.

Panel five, chaired by Mostafa Ammadi of FLSH Ain-Chock Casablanca, started with a talk on prostitution in Tangier as seen through the lens of Hispanophone memoir and fiction by Camila Pastor de María Campos of the Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas in Mexico D.F.  Bernardo Antonio González of Wesleyan University discussed “interculturalism and hispanoarabism” in modern Spain through Ali Bey. Selma Mokrani Barkaoui of Badji Mokhtar University in Annaba continued the discussion by presenting various examples of Moroccan decolonization poetry.

The final panel, chaired by Emily Gottreich of UCLA, began with Elena Arigita of the University of Granada who spoke on narratives on the margins of history, specifically relating to the moriscos. Her talk was followed by Rosa Norton’s of UC Berkeley, which discussed the traditional methods used in producing Moroccan crafts and how these methods model those of Al-Andalus. Vanessa Paloma Elbaz of INALCO-Sorbonne closed out the events with a discussion and performance of five Moroccan and Spanish songs in the oral tradition.

We are grateful to all of the participants and to AIMS and CAORC for coming together to make such an enlightening event possible. ¡Gracias! 

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