Cascoly Books: A Street in Marrakech

Cascoly Books - A Street in Marrakech

A Street in Marrakech

Elizabeth Warnock Fernea's journal of her experience living on a 'typical' small street in the old town of Marrakech in Morocco.  In the early 70's she and her 3 young children accompanied her husband on his sabbatical to Morocco and they decided to rent a house in the medina rather than in the newer French quarter where most foreigners lived.  She gives an outsider's view of the workings of a Moroccan Muslim neighborhood as she slowly wins the trust of the women in the nearby houses.  Their society looks inward - there are public interactions, but most private life is confined to the extended family and it takes a long time for her to even be able to recognize her neighbors.  The women wear veils in public, and the men are at work or unseen in the homes.  This book appears to have been written before she began academic work of her own and it's a bit jarring to read this book after her book on Islamic feminism - since there are many passages in which she appears to be naive about both religious and social customs and attitudes.  It's a little surprising that after a month, she and the children have still not learned  the basics of daily life - both action and language.  In any case, she more than makes up for these minor lapses and the result is a rich description of both daily life, and a glimpse of the religious and social calendar year, including Ramadan, visits to zaweera and moussems [local shrines and religious societies], weddings and neighborhood incidents.  Having visited the D'jema el F'na and other Marrakech and Atlas mountain areas 30 years later, her descriptions rang true, even if we only experienced the city as brief travelers passing thru.


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