Tangier to Havana: Race, Jazz, Political Nostalgia

By Hisham Aidi
Submitted to Session P4842 (Rethinking the Maghreb: Liminality and Transversal Connections, 2017 Annual Meeting
Pol Science
LCD Projector with Audio Patch or Speakers;
In 1959, after coming to power, Fidel Castro and Che Guevara began supporting anti-colonial struggles in North Africa - the FLN in Algeria and groups in the Spanish Sahara and northern Morocco. Cuba would begin to court activists and writers from the Spanish-speaking Rif region, as well as the American expat writers in Tangier (the Beats, Black Powerites and jazz musicians who had settled in the "Interzone.") This paper will look at the culture wars and propaganda battles that played out in northern Morocco during the early Cold War, between Cuba, Spain, Egypt and the US. Riffian intellectuals often had to negotiate different languages and political projects -- Arabic and Spanish, Hispanism and Arabism. Thus, Tuhami Wazzani would write in Spanish and Arabic, Ibn Azzouz Hakim would opt for Spanish, while Amina El Louh and Mohammed Choukri chose Arabic. The presentation will also look at how the propaganda wars played out in the realm of music. Finally, this paper will examine how the "belle epoque" era of 1950s Havana and Tangier is being revisited today in public discourse and cultural policy.