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Engaging the Arts and Humanities in the Maghrib

Professor Naima Lahbil

Professor Naima Lahbil (center, University of Fes) addressing questions during the workshop’s Language, Culture, and Architecture focus session.

In September 2018, thanks to an Officer’s Planning Grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, CAORC organized and hosted a three-day workshop, “Exploring and Strengthening the Arts and Humanities in the Maghrib,” in Tangier, Morocco.

The meeting, which was held from September 25–27 at the Tangier American Legation Institute for Moroccan Studies (TALIM), brought together leading scholars, humanists, and public intellectuals from across the Maghrib to identify shared concerns, priorities, and opportunities in different fields of the arts and humanities. The ultimate goal of the workshop was to collectively explore existing needs and challenges and how these impediments might be overcome through institutional collaboration, cross-border exchange, skills development, and knowledge sharing.

View a short video showing participant reactions to the CAORC workshop, “Exploring and Strengthening the Arts and Humanities in the Maghrib.”

The workshop was organized by CAORC, in collaboration with the three CAORC member institutions of the American Institute for Maghrib Studies (AIMS)—TALIM, the Centre d’Etudes Maghrébines à Tunis (CEMAT), and the Centre d’Études Maghrébines en Algérie (CEMA).

In addition, the meeting featured special guest discussants from the Arab Council for the Social Sciences (ACSS) and the Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA), two organizations with proven track records in scholarly networking and capacity-building in the region.

Maghrib workshop group photo

Participants in the workshop “Exploring and Strengthening the Arts and Humanities in the Maghrib,” held at the Tangier American Legation Institute (Morocco) from September 25–27, 2018.

The workshop included four focus sessions that presented overviews of the current situation facing key fields within the arts and humanities across the Maghrib. The sessions—which covered Visual and Performing Arts; Language, Culture, and Architecture; Traditional and Contemporary Literature; and History and Historiography—each included presentations by two to three specialists in the selected fields, followed by questions and discussion from the other participants.

Maghrib workshop brainstorm session

Participant engagement during the workshop’s concluding session.

On the workshop’s concluding day, the participants engaged in a lively and energetic brainstorming discussion of the key challenges (and opportunities) facing the arts and humanities in the Maghrib. The extended two-part session focused first on the shared needs/challenges that had been identified during the first two days of the workshop, and second on identifying specific, practical solutions that could help address those common concerns.

Led by participant discussants and facilitators using whiteboards and flip charts, this extremely productive group-think exercise was very successful and led to identifying common needs and challenges, as well as possible ways forward, which were compiled, reviewed, and then reported to the Mellon Foundation in November.

Andrew W. Mellon Foundation logo

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