Literary Histories of Loss: Jews as an Object of Loss in Moroccan "Mnemonic Literature"

By Brahim El Guabli
Submitted to Session P6383 (The Politics of Culture in Postcolonial Morocco and its Diasporas, 2021 Annual Meeting
Africa (Sub-Saharan); Algeria; All Middle East;
African Studies;
LCD Projector with Audio Patch or Speakers;
This paper examines what I call "mnemonic literature" and its producers' rewriting of silenced histories of the emigration of Moroccan Jews. Mnemonic literature refers to a rich and growing body of literature that depicts Moroccan Jews before, during, and after their emigration after Morocco's independence in 1956. Authored by Moroccan Muslims, this literature, which includes novels such as Aourid's Cintra, al-Tazi's Ana al-mansi, and Miliani's Casanfa, delves deep into Jewish-Muslim relations and recreates the context in which Jewish emigration from Morocco took place. This paper demonstrates that the mnemonic and historiographical stakes of this literary engagement with the formerly taboo topics of Jewish emigration cuts deep into Moroccan notions of citizenship and understanding of history as a space for civic engagement. This engagement, the paper reveals, is twofold: firstly, mnemonic literature accounts for the loss of Moroccan Jews. Secondly, this literature creates the conditions for the writing of a history that has so far remained outside the interest of Moroccan academic historians. The works under study in this paper will be contextualized within the ongoing historiographical debates about tārīkh al-zaman al-rāhin (history of the present) that have been taking place in Morocco since the early 2000s.