The description is submitted to:


Session R4748 (Conducting Archival Research in MENA: Current Challenges, Creative Solutions), 2017
I will speak to the current research landscape in both Egypt and Morocco, where I conducted archival and ethnographic research in 2016 and 2017. I will primarily discuss archival research spanning the late nineteenth and mid-twentieth century.

Recent events in Egypt, from increasing crackdowns on civil society to restrictions of personal and creative expression and academic freedoms, have created a challenging research environment for foreign and Egyptian researchers. State security clearances for access to the national archives have become increasingly difficult for foreign researchers to obtain. Strict rules about access to particular units and photocopies within the archive persist as challenges. I will discuss the current climate among the research community and discuss approaches taken by some researchers (including myself) who have turned to alternate archives, from sites in the metropole to smaller libraries or sites within Egypt.

The landscape is quite different in Morocco. Although certain subjects remain politically sensitive for researchers, procedures for accessing state archives and libraries are considerably more straightforward, and rules about accessing and photographing or photocopying materials are less stringent than in the Egyptian case. Different challenges arise before the archival researcher in Morocco, however, from the difficulty of accessing Arabic (rather than French) materials in some subject areas to the fragmentary and decentralized nature of many archival material from the modern period.