A Tale of Two Protectorates: Cultural Hegemony in Colonial Morocco and Its Impact on Indigenous Musics

By Hicham Chami
Submitted to Session P4969 (Music and Politics "min al-Mashriq ila al-Maghrib", 2017 Annual Meeting
Andalusi Studies; Colonialism; Ethnomusicology;
The enduring linkage between al-Andalus and Fes perpetuated by the Fassi socio-political elite has privileged Andalusian music in Moroccan public life and education: both mirroring its inherent class stratification and impacting the viability of indigenous cultural traditions. The pre-independence backstory must be examined to place the Fassi phenomenon in context. This paper argues that the Gramscian concept of cultural hegemony was a critical factor during 20th-century colonial rule, with the French and Spanish Protectorate administrations (1912-1956) appropriating music to advance their own agendas, in the guise of cultural preservation.

Fernando Valderrama Martínez witnessed a cultural revival in Tetuán during his 26-year tenure as Asesor-Jefe de la Enseñanza Marroquí de la Delegación de Educación y Cultura Española. The ostensible rationale was restoring the “musical treasure” of the nawbat (Valderrama 2005); yet this program effectively reinforced a process of Hispanicization in doing so. French cultural policy “respected pre-colonial customs and traditions” (Sater 2010), Résident-Général Hubert Lyautey advising Prosper Ricard, appointed to the Service des Arts Indigènes, that “Morocco’s display...will be composed of examples of the local arts” (Mokhiber 2013). These “preservationist logics” (Wyrtzen 2015) would commodify elements of Moroccan culture, rendering it “static.”

This examination of the status of musical genres during the Protectorate era sets the stage for analyzing the post-independence resurgence of the Andalusian tradition, which had lost favor under French rule, and explores the consequences of Protectorate and post-independence cultural policies on the corpus of Moroccan musics.