Morocco Bound

Disorienting America’s Maghreb, from Casablanca to the Marrakech Express

Morocco Bound

New Americanists

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Book Pages: 376 Illustrations: 27 illus. Published: October 2005

Author: Brian Edwards

American Studies, Middle East Studies, Postcolonial and Colonial Studies

Until attention shifted to the Middle East in the early 1970s, Americans turned most often toward the Maghreb—Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, and the Sahara—for their understanding of “the Arab.” In Morocco Bound, Brian T. Edwards examines American representations of the Maghreb during three pivotal decades—from 1942, when the United States entered the North African campaign of World War II, through 1973. He reveals how American film and literary, historical, journalistic, and anthropological accounts of the region imagined the role of the United States in a world it seemed to dominate at the same time that they displaced domestic social concerns—particularly about race relations—onto an “exotic” North Africa.

Edwards reads a broad range of texts to recuperate the disorienting possibilities for rethinking American empire. Examining work by William Burroughs, Jane Bowles, Ernie Pyle, A. J. Liebling, Jane Kramer, Alfred Hitchcock, Clifford Geertz, James Michener, Ornette Coleman, General George S. Patton, and others, he puts American texts in conversation with an archive of Maghrebi responses. Whether considering Warner Brothers’ marketing of the movie Casablanca in 1942, journalistic representations of Tangier as a city of excess and queerness, Paul Bowles’s collaboration with the Moroccan artist Mohammed Mrabet, the hippie communities in and around Marrakech in the 1960s and early 1970s, or the writings of young American anthropologists working nearby at the same time, Edwards illuminates the circulation of American texts, their relationship to Maghrebi history, and the ways they might be read so as to reimagine the role of American culture in the world.


Morocco Bound contributes to an expanding literature on the durable links between travel, Orientalism, and imperialism. . . . Edwards’ book punctuates for us the many ways that cultural representation sidesteps power relationships, particularly in the Middle East. If the literary experiments he examines do not leave us with a clear impression that travel can offer a viable vantage point for self-fashioning or for cultural critique, they do at least point to the tenacity of national identifications in any constitution of selfhood and in any critique of global geopolitics.” — Stephen M. Levin, New Passages in Travel Writing

Morocco Bound is a fascinating and insightful account of the multiple ways that Americans engaged Morocco from the 1940s to the 1970s. . . . [A] sophisticated and fascinating work of first-class scholarship that will be of great interest to scholars and students of history, cultural and literary studies, and area studies.” — Melani McAlister, Journal of American History

“Brian Edwards's painstakingly researched Morocco Bound invites us to think not only about the legacy of (American) innocents abroad, but also to imagine the contours of a world civilization--and the nature of human relations--beyond Henry Luce's long ‘American century.’” — Anouar Majid, Tingis

“Brian T. Edwards applies the lessons of Edward Said’s an arena whose time has come...It is easy to endorse his collaborative spirit and to join in lamenting what he calls the American heritage of indifference toward the political travails of Moroccans.” — Diana Wylie, American Historical Review

“Brian T. Edwards has penned a fundamental book, one that takes an in-depth look at how America—via both popular culture and the State Department—“discovered” Morocco, starting with Paul Bowles, moving through Casablanca, and ending with hippies, hashish, and ‘happenings.’” — Rebecca Romani, Al Jadid

“Brian T. Edwards’ book provides an excellent analysis of the American representations of Morocco during and after World War II. After reading Morocco Bound, one can only re-examine the US-Moroccan relations and some masterpieces like Casablanca and Sheltering Sky, through a different lens and with a different mindset. It is a ‘must-read’ for any specialist or student of film, colonial and postcolonial literature, anthropology, art, music and song, journalism, political science, among other disciplines.” — Nabil Boudraa, Journal of North African Studies

“Edwards achieves no small feat, listing and reviewing the critique on the American representations of Morocco from 1942 to 1973. . . . American, postcolonial, and North African studies go hand in hand. This overlapping of categories will prove to be extremely valuable in the understanding of the varied and specific context of colonial and postcolonial Morocco, and to a larger extent, of the general context of globalisation.” — Maria Porras, Anglistica

"Morocco Bound offers a compelling account both of the Maghreb as an important contact zone in the formation of the United States as a global power and of American orientalism as a formative component in American foreign relations. . . . [T]he power here lies in detailed cultural historiography, and some of the text’s most compelling moments reside in the connective tissue of Edwards’s historicist argumentation." — Margaux Cowden, GLQ

"Edwards . . . [takes] up up a new regional focus, showing the crucial place of the Maghreb countries in the American engagement with the region. . . . He insightfully reads the journalism authored by Americans in the Maghreb at the time alongside films like Road to Morocco, Casablanca, and The Man Who Knew Too Much in a manner that suggests a correlation between America's increasing imperial power and its representations of the peoples that its imperialism would be visited on, but . . . he is careful not to suggest too easy of a causal relationship between imperialism and culture. . . .” — Hosam Aboul-Ela, Modern Fiction Studies

Morocco Bound is a powerful meditation on the question of why the circulation of cultural representations matters…. Given its important critical interventions, Morocco Bound should be a required text for a broad range of readers and scholars in the fields of American studies, postcolonialism, comparative literature, and Middle Eastern Studies.” — Ali Behdad, Comparative Literature

"Morocco Bound is an exemplary work of postcolonial American studies scholarship, one acutely sensitive to the importance of the specificities of colonial and imperial relations in the Maghreb. Yet Morocco Bound is no predictable ideological study. Edwards constantly foregrounds the historical complexities of encounter in each text he analyzes while simultaneously presenting nuanced close readings. In the process, he challenges familiar theoretical paradigms and presents us with new possibilities." — Malini Johar Schueller, American Quarterly

"Not only does Edwards’s book propose a methodology that importantly indicates the material differences between text and context, but it also breaks new scholarly ground in presenting a new area of study for transnational American studies: the orientalist construction of the Maghreb. In doing so, Morocco Bound represents a timely intervention into the epistemological and material violence of the present moment and promises to be a study that will be returned to long after the present conflict (hopefully) has passed." — Christopher Breu, Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East

"Throughout this book it is clear that Edwards views dialogue as a modest corrective to Orientalist tendencies, often pointing out moments when opportunities for exchange were missed. Edwards’s own work is consciously collaborative and dialogic; he acknowledges his debt to Moroccan colleagues. His own experiences in Morocco, the ground on which this book is built, constitutes yet another chapter in the American-Moroccan encounter at an historical moment when the need for dialogue and conversation across the gaping chasm separating the United States and the Arab world is as dire as ever." — Allen Hibbard, Comparative Literature Studies

Morocco Bound announces a radical departure from contemporary debates on orientalism through an interesting deployment of the concept of circulation in its study of the U.S. encounter with North Africa and through an astute consideration of the ways that American texts translate the North African Arab and Berber other. With this book, postcolonialism, cultural studies, African studies, and American studies will be refreshed and can begin some of the most exciting debates anew.” — Taieb Belghazi, Mohammed V University, Rabat, Morocco

“By his commitment to working across languages, treating several disciplines and diverse cultural levels (official, mass, avant-garde), and by his disruptive practice of reading Arabic voices together with Anglophones, Brian Edwards has produced an exemplary performance of what American Studies must become in the twenty-first century.” — Jonathan Arac, author of The Emergence of American Literary Narrative, 1820–1860

"As literary studies in the United States founder between America globalizing and the globe Americanizing, Brian T. Edwards's brilliant analysis of how America becomes worldly for others is a model for future work. Here language-based close readings bring literary criticism and the study of cultural politics together as the author guides us with a sure hand from cold war ideology, through 'hippie orientalism' and postcoloniality, onto the threshold of the consequences of globalization seen in a new perspective." — Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Brian T. Edwards is Assistant Professor of English and Comparative Literary Studies at Northwestern University.

Table of Contents Back to Top
List of Illustrations ix

Acknowledgments xi

Introduction: Morocco Bound, 1942–1973 1

Part I: Taking Casablanca

1. American Orientalism: Taking Casablanca 29

2. Sheltering Screens: Paul Bowles and Foreign Relations 78

II. Queer Tangier

3. Tangier(s): The Multiple Cold War Contexts of the International Zone 121

4. Disorienting the National Subject: Burroughs's Tangier, Hitchcock's Marrakech 158

5. Three Serious Writers Two Serious Authors: Jane Bowles, Mohammed Mrabet, and the Erotics of Collaboration Politics of Translation 198

III. Marrackech Express

6. Hippie Orientalism: The Interpretation of Countercultures 247

Notes 303

Works Cited 335

Index 351
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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-3644-0 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-3609-9
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