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Contraband Modern in the Fes Medina

Welcome to the Contraband Modern in the Fes Medina website

A collaboration with Faculty of Letters, University of Fes, Morocco.

This website forms part of a yearlong pilot project designed to explore the ‘contraband modern’ in the Fes Medina. It is a joint project between the Ferguson Centre for African and Asian Studies, Open University, UK, and the Faculty of Letters at the University of Fes, Dhar Mehraz, Morocco.

Coordinated by Dr. Kaushik Bhaumik (Ferguson Centre), Khalid Bekkaoui, Abdellatif Khayati, Driss Mansouri (University of Fes), with contributions by postgraduate students of the University of Fes.

The project sought to explore the interface between the impact of a global flow of goods through the holy space of the Medina in Fes and various strategies of the politics of location waged by its inhabitants. With particular focus on the significance of the ever-proliferating and increasingly powerful articulation of the interface via contraband exchanges - both material and conceptual. David Richards, former Director of the Centre, had a significant role in initiating this project.

Research was carried out by groups consisting of students of the Masters Program in Cultural Studies at the Moroccan Cultural Studies Centre at the University of Fes. The aim is to create a multimedia archive documenting various aspects of the contraband modern in Fes that will hopefully be an ongoing process in the coming years. The archive consists in the main of extracts from the coverage of contraband economies in Fes in the press, extracts from interviews with consumers and purveyors of the contraband and images of markets, goods and street life in the Medina that have over the years increasingly become sites of the ‘contraband modern’. We have managed to collect an enormous amount of material that we hope to upload to the site in the near future, as well as augmented by new material gathered in a larger future project on the subject.

A set of essays written by research students documenting and analysing the contraband modern in the Medina of Fes forms a key element of the website. The website also consists of a number of essays by academics in charge of the project that will guide users through the conceptual framework of the project, the city of Fes and the idea of the contraband modern in the specific context of the city in particular and Morocco in general. The city of Fes and its Medina is introduced to users through an essay by Professor Khalid Bekkaoui, while Professor Driss Mansouri writes about the contraband modern in contemporary Fes and Morocco. In his introductory essay Dr Kaushik Bhaumik gives an account of how the project came about and the conceptual framework underlying the creation of the website and the project as a whole.

Users of the website will be able to make the essays come alive by using the hyperlinks that will guide them from the essays to artefacts in the archives that will illuminate the texts in more immediate and meaningful ways. Users can also navigate the site separately by using the buttons leading to archived texts, images and sounds. Interviews have been mocked up by the research students for reasons of safety of the people interviewed. We have also taken all care to keep the images of the Medina and its markets as anonymous as possible.

Final update: 15 January 2007