In the eighteenth century, many famous
expeditions were dispatched from Europe. These were often explicitly colonizing
enterprises, particularly involving the annexation of various regions throughout
the world. The African exploitation was an important and fascinating part of
this enterprise. This paper attempts to highlight the extensive wave of
European travelers towards the East and Africa. Ali Behdad, in his essay about
the European expansion over the east, the Politics of Adventure, Theories of
Travel, Discourses of Power divides “European
travel adventures into three major historical periods: the late seventeenth
century, the late eighteenth century, and the mid-nineteenth century. In the
first period, the Orient is presented as the exotic and different, making it an
object of the European curiosity. Second, in the late eighteenth century, the
Orient would be given a new mode of interest and looked at as a suitable ground
for systematic and scientific investigation. Finally the mid-nineteenth
century, and this period was concerned as Ali Behdad literally noted ‘The
commerce of adventure'”.1
In this research, I will investigate the
accounts/ writings of western writers about the East as a broad field of study
and Morocco in particular. This paper, which is basically about the representation
of Morocco by the European superior gaze, enhance the critical, influential and
controversial book of Orientalism by Edward Said. By Orientalism, said means “the
way of thinking and representing that assume that there is an absolute
difference between the East and the west. According to this logic, the west is
seen as rational, developed, human, and superior. In contrast to the East which
is defined as its opposite, irrational, under-developed, backward and inferior”.2
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In the shadow of Orientalism, my research will
focus upon the book ‘Morocco’ by the French officer and novelist who was known
for his exotic novels, Pierre loti. As a student of English studies and
literature I should like to try and find out how the dominant western eye conceived
Morocco in the late nineteenth century and what images, perceptions had been
transported and circulated in western societies on this country. I am also
going to analyze the part that describes Fez city which was then the capital of
Morocco and the sultan’s permanent court. An illustration of the sections from
the book “Morocco” I intend to investigate:
Women on the roof of fez,
A street in Fez
In this part of my research paper, I will depend
on the theory of Orientalism being the study of the representation of the
Orient by the West. According to Said, “Orientalism dates from the period of European
enlightenment and colonization of the Arab world. Orientalism
provided a rationalization for European colonialism based on a self-serving
history in which ‘ the West’ constructed the East as extremely different and
inferior, and therefore in need of western intervention or ‘ rescue'”3.
It is my task to elaborate on the
misrepresentation of Morocco and whatever motivations or reasons were behind
this exaggerated representation of the other who is “us”.
Explanation of how the idea of travel
was transformed to be an impulse for colonialism in the heydays of imperialism.
«History is written by those who win
and those who dominate.” Edward said
“Until the lions have their own
historians, history of the hunt will always glorify the hunter” Chinua
Through these couple of quotes I shall assume via
my perspective that Moroccan authors and the educated class are the best
ambassadors of their country now and in the past and they are responsible for
representing their country in a more realistic and authentic way, and only the
absence of this class has given the opportunity to the west to represent
Morocco in a way that fulfils their goals and interests.
The translation of the part on Fez
that is the main part my research paper shall deal with.
late nineteenth century and early twentieth century are often dubbed the age of
‘High Imperialism’. It was in this period that Britain, France and the other
European powers greatly extended their influence around the world, with the
result that by 1914 they effectively controlled some 85 percent of the globe”4.
number of books has been published between the periods mentioned above, these
books which comprise travel narratives and adventures by the West paved the
ground for what is called Imperialism and that is shown obviously in the
colonial discourse that is used in these books.
1 KUEHN, Julia et Paul SMETHURST
(dir.), Travel Writing, Form, and Empire. The Poetics and Politics of
Mobility. Ed. By ALI BEHDAD. The Politics of Adventure: Theories of Travel,
Discourses of Power New York, Routledge (Routledge Research in Travel Writing),
2008, 266 p.
2 What is Orientalism
Thompson, Travel Writing : Representing the Other : Strategies of
Othering and Colonial Discourse, New York : Routledge ,2011, 137.