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Passing through overgrown fields and the untended remains of collapsed buildings, we reach the northern outskirts of Agadir, Morocco. A local historian and survivor of the 1960 earthquake that destroyed the city has driven me to what is left of his old neighborhood, Ichach. Standing across from the site, he gestures toward mounds of rubble—now covered over with sparse shrubs and plastic bags and bottles—where the bodies of friends and relatives were never recovered. When the earthquake struck Agadir it revealed an unequal geography of material vulnerability separating poor and wealthy, Moroccan and European neighborhoods. Within seconds, Ichach’s stone and earthen houses crumbled—burying most of its residents. Shortly afterward, demolition crews leveled whatever structures remained in what had once been the city’s poorest and most vibrant neighborhood.
The local historian shows me a ditch near his family’s former home, where the city’s government had begun to dump municipal waste before he campaigned against it. Unlike other neighborhoods of the pre-quake city whose victims were buried in common graves, there is nothing here to mark the presence of those who lie beneath the ruins of Ichach. Even in death, Ichach’s former inhabitants remain subject to uneven geographies of neglect and exposure.
Writing Agadir’s history is a collective project. Through my research on debates about infrastructure, demolition, and risk management in urban Morocco, I have met survivors, engineers, and planners who continue to make sense of the earthquake in ways that shape their professional practices and political engagements. Commemoration in this context is not a luxury but a weighted act of remembering—both intimate and expansive.
Through my research on debates about infrastructure, demolition, and risk management in urban Morocco, I have met survivors, engineers, and planners who continue to make sense of the earthquake in ways that shape their professional practices and political engagements.