The Local and Global Dynamics of Moroccan Music Festivals


Dr. Moulay Driss El-Maarouf

Research Area:


Music Festivals in Morocco have grown to become the country’s Meta-artistic flagships. Scattered in geography and time, festivals punctuate the life calendar of cities and citizens, craft cross-cultural situations, produce trans-border encounters and economic opportunities. Music festivals define cities in the same dexterity that cities define festivals. My reading of the three Moroccan music spectacles, namely the Mawazine festival (Rabat), the Gnawa festival (Essouira), the Fez festival of world sacred music ( Fez) is an effort to put to task the question of festivalization in Morocco. It is difficult to draw a wedge between modern festivals and discourse. These festivals, above all, are a site of struggle between not only the local and the global, the traditional and the modern, the national and the trans-national, but also between the margin and the center, the urban and the rural, the authentic and the phony, the sacred and profane. Between the tide and ebb, Moroccan music festival grows, if I might borrow from Deleuze, into a “becoming something else”. Today, Moroccan festivals have shifted from being typically local celebrations (moussems) to becoming global manifestations, flinging urban spaces, natives, tourists, localities, identities into a confusing and ambiguous vortex. Such are no longer discrete and isolated events, now rationally produced and managed by bureaucratic organizations for instrumental purposes. Accordingly, I will empirically engage within and aesthetically probe into the aporitical contradictions entertained by such cultural ephemera.