Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Migrants and Fassi Merchants: Urban Changes in Morocco, 1830-1912
by Cavender, Amal, Ph.D., Purdue University, 2017, 288; 10608727
Abstract (Summary)

This research examines the role of the Moroccan rulers, the political administration, and the Moroccan people in shaping Moroccan cities, mainly Fez, during the nineteenth century. It studies the role of trade and the interaction of Moroccan merchants with France and England between 1830 and 1912. In this study, I offer an analysis of a group of factors that influenced the development of Fez. More specifically, I analyze the impacts of war, drought, famine, epidemics, and unrest, which culminated in a massive migration from rural regions to urban cities, Fez in particular. The death and hardship of the era resulted in social and urban changes that made Fez the center of thriving trade and building projects.

These dynamics of change and socioeconomic factors reshaped the built environment of Fez. Accordingly, this dissertation examines several social and economic layers of urban change in Fez. This study challenges the notion that cities in Morocco represented a backward culture and stagnant past. It also articulates that the importance of Morocco comes not only from its relations with Europe, but also from its own political, social, and economic ideals.

As trade flourished during this period, Fez rose to be an important stage for wealth and urban change. It played an essential role in the economy and political balance of Europe. As a result, a new class of powerful and wealthy merchants, Muslims and Jews, formed the new political elites of Fez. These merchants influenced the socio-economic and built environments of Fez and Morocco at large. In addition, the interaction of the wealthy merchants with Europe increased their wealth and political presence, which impacted Morocco and facilitated the presence of European powers in the country. As a result of this transformation, a struggle for power heightened and the gap between the wealthy and the poor widened. These consequences transformed the built environment of Fez; the wealthy built palatial residences and the poor struggled to survive in cramped spaces.

This study posits that the slow and cautious progress of Morocco suggests the good intentions of the rulers to promote progress and development in a variety of domestic sectors. In addition, the increased wealth from trade and investment in properties and the continuous building and renovation activities reveals that Morocco was a land of change, and Fez was a vibrant, productive urban center during the nineteenth century. Fez’s production at the time is characterized by increased wealth from trade, land development, investment, and renovation.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Holden, Stacy
Commitee: Farr, James, Idrissi Alami, Ahmed, Katz, Jonathan, Parrish, David
School: Purdue University
Department: History
School Location: United States -- Indiana
Source: DAI-A 79/02(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Art history, World History, History
Keywords: Jewish merchants, Migrants, Morocco, Muslim merchants
Publication Number: 10608727
ISBN: 978-0-355-25498-3
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