Morocco Bound, 1942–1973
What are the stakes and conditions of literature in the ‘‘American
century’’? In what ways do American texts translate the world,
and how do these translations circulate abroad? (Where do they do so,
and why does it matter?) With the ascension of the United States as
global superpower, how did Americans negotiate the presence and ves-
tiges of European colonialism? What is the relationship between literary
and cinematic representations of the foreign and foreign relations? What
is the recent history of American thinking about ‘‘the Arab’’?
These are some of the organizing questions of this book. In the chapters
that follow, I take a focused look at three decades of American representa-
tions of the Maghreb—Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia, plus much of the
Sahara—and follow the afterlives of those representations in the Maghreb
itself. The last question is the one that originally motivated the study, as a
point of entry into thinking about American attitudes toward peoples of
the Arab world and its diaspora. Why, then, the Maghreb, the west-
ernmost edge of the Arab world, at the periphery of the Middle East? The
answer is partially dictated by the archive. Since the late nineteenth cen-
tury, the Maghreb has been one of the most familiar locations of the
American exotic and one of the places to which filmmakers and novelists
turned often for tales of ‘‘Oriental’’ splendor and decadence. If those
representations have partially framed American ideas about the Arab
world, it was of course an Arab world reduced of its diversity and internal
antagonisms by the generalizing logics of Orientalism. Before 1973, when
American popular attention turned more decidedly toward the Middle
East coincident with the opec price hike and Arab oil embargo (which
struck close to home because of its e√ect on domestic fuel prices), rep-
resentations of the Maghreb played a leading role in the formation
of popular American ideas about the Arab. Taking a longer view, the
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