I recently returned from fieldwork in Morocco and France where I carried out dissertation research on the politics and materiality of housing in Casablanca under the French Protectorate and in post-independence Morocco.
For months, I was in and out of state ministries—trying to assemble a fragmentary archive for thinking about colonial urban materialities, forms of expertise deployed to manage them, and their afterlives in the decades following Morocco’s independence in 1956.
Outside the archive, I followed cement plant workers, architectural preservationists, geologists, and former officials. These different communities of practitioners have their own distinct ways of relating to the urban environment. Their engagements with the pipes, paints, stones and concrete slabs of the colonial past reflect differing investments in contemporary political life in Morocco.
While completing the archival and oral portions of my research, I engaged with a handful of urban associations in Casablanca, where residents enlist historical memory and mobilize scholarly work to articulate their own claims to knowledge and ownership of the city.