Conference Statements

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“The annual Tangier Conference, which was inaugurated in November 2004, has become a notable and progressively successful cultural event. The importance of this conference stems not only from the sheer regularity of its yearly occurrence but also from its international nature, the number of serious scholars who participate in it, the good academic quality of the papers presented in it, and the smooth and friendly manner of its organization. Moreover, the almost immediate publication of each year’s proceedings also contributes to make of this event a real success.

In my view, the Tangier Conference promises to remain a successful event for many years to come owing to two further important reasons. First, Tangier itself is a good guarantor of this success thanks to its rich and exceptional history as well as its strategic geographic location at the crossroads of diverse cultures and nationalities…The second guarantor is none other than Khalid Amine, together with a team of active co-ordinators and experienced academics like A. Hussey, H. Benziane, B. Tharaud, G. Roberson and S. Mokhlis. Indeed, without the honest and hard-working Professor Amine the conference might not be able to survive more than a couple of years…

My participation in the first conference, ‘Writing Tangier’, came as a result of my interest in the works of P. Bowles and the story of his long expatriation in his ‘magic city’. Dr Khalid kindly invited me to that conference, and since then I’ve found enough motivation to discover the different literary ‘voices of Tangier’: M. Choukri, M. Mrabet, A Beroho, A. Akbib, Z. Ben Bouchta, A. Majid and many others.”
--- Mohamed Elkouche
April 11, 2008

Amy Friedman and son, Jesse, at the Chellah Hotel, reading the recently published Lalla J'mila, by Zoubeir Ben Bouchta, translated by ICPS archivist, Mustapha Hilal Soussi.

“Performing Tangier 2008: Borders, Beats and Beyond” is the first ICPS conference I have attended, and I cannot commend the event highly enough for the level of shared scholarship, and for the spirit of academic collegiality the organizing committee has managed to foster. One could not have asked for a more perfect assortment of provocative, critically alert and cutting-edge presentations. Our main conference room in the charming Chellah Hotel was a rainbow of patterned tiles splashed across the floor and up the walls, and the inspired discussions sparked by panels in that chamber were equally kaleidoscopic:

How do we assess or even articulate the im/moral choices of revered Beat writers? Can the (subaltern) translator of literary works speak? And where will Tangier be in the future, amongst its many borders of myth, art, performance, narrative, legend, and International Zone?

Energetic conversations spilled out past the table laden with coffee and pastries in the garden, into the restaurant, and all the way to Dean’s Bar. At breakfast the next day debates continued over points made by Kurt Hemmer, Pociao, Antje von Gravenitz and Dwight Reynolds on art, history and aesthetics. And there were unexpected bonus moments of pure live culture, as Deborah Kapchan prompted jazz memories from musical great Randy Weston, as Regina Weinrich presented her Paul Bowles documentary, as Rebekka Kill donned electric tangerine overalls and slipped into character for a mad-cap, unpredictable drama on the streets of Tangier. There may have been precious little time to shop in the Kasbah on our guided tour with Rachid Tafersiti, President of the Al-Boughaz Association, and Abdel-Aziz Idrissi, Curator of the Kasbah Museum, but there was a cornucopia of intellectual souvenirs to bring home from “Performing Tangier.”
--- Amy Friedman
May 2008

The journal [Bowles, Beats, Tangier - new ICPS book] looks terrific, and I am only sorry that I could not be in it - although I had long wanted to be a part of the Tangier-Beats conference, in the end I had to go to San Francisco at that time. Well, my turn will come again soon, I hope, as it has been a long while since I was last in Tangier (the early 1990s).
--- Oliver Harris

“It has been an honor to participate in these cultural conferences over the past four years. As Tangier is home to me for half the year, I delight in the intellectual and social enrichment -- for myself and for the city. As a participant, I join others who are thinking globally and acting locally as agents for cultural identification and promotion. Tangier has inspired writers and artists in the past and we need to share this heritage -- as well as encourage new Tangerine creativity. My first contributions were undertaken as a voice for women who have participated in the cultural development of this iconic city. This conference is an exciting forum for the investigation of the many faces of Tangier; it is a meeting place for people, literature, creativity, collaboration and ideas. I am fortunate to be a part of this process.”
---Carol Malt
March 24, 2008

Nadine visiting a shop near Grand Socco - at the end of the stairs that go up at the right of Cinéma Rif. She reports, "...when I played a few Arabic licks on their used (German!) electric guitar, (the guy) grabbed his Guembri and played a funky bass line over it."

"Borders, Beats and Beyond" was an event that truly reached across borders. It did not only engage local and international academics in fruitful dialogues beyond disciplinary boundaries, but also brought together theorists and activists, musicians, dramaturgues, film makers and performance artists in a uniquely inspiring and collegial atmosphere. The city of Tangier with its rich historical texture as a cultural crossroads proved a perfect and challenging site for the issues negotiated during the conference, and has something to teach to anyone engaged in the field of cultural studies today. To see Tangier's mosques, churches, synagogues and McDonald's every day on the way between the different conference locations, to daily converse in at least four languages, to see Europe a stone's throw away and talk to so many people for whom the few kilometers to Gibraltar or Algeciras constitute an insurmountable distance - all these experiences put the academic discussions on "borders and beyond" into a perspective that few other locations could so intensely purvey. Choukran djazilan to everyone involved in this event!
-- Nadine Milde
June 6, 2008

Jeffrey Miller and Paul Bowles
Tangier, 1993

"Contrary to the doggerel inflicted upon us in our youth, ' . . . and never the twain shall meet,' Khalid Amine, assisted by his merry band of scholars and poets---Hassan BenZiyan, Andrew Hussey, Said Koubrit, Barry Tharaud, José Manuel Goñi Pérez, Alfred Hackensberger, Allen Hibbard and young George Roberson---continues, against long odds, to pull proverbial rabbits out of the magic hat, a series of vital conferences (four and still counting) which bring together in Tangier (that charged geographical node, where Europe meets Africa, Latinity meets Semitism, Christianity meets Islam, par le detroit) scholars, writers and others from the world of culture so as to become acquainted and exchange ideas. Whereas that sounds simple, straightforward, and perhaps it is, the importance of these conferences in a highly volatile and polarized world cannot be overestimated. As William Burroughs presciently wrote a half-century ago (Early Routines): “Interzone [Tangier] . . . is in fact the listening post of the world . . .” These conferences facilitate just that, East listens to West, West listens to East, North listens to South, South listens to North, and all thereby are enriched, symbolically stitching the fractured world together."
---Jeffrey Miller
March 25, 2008

• Overview of the conference •

The conference, “Performing Tangier: Borders, Beats, and Beyond” was characterized by an openness to varied scholarly interests and approaches related to Tangier and its influence on literature and art. It was analogous to treating Tangier like a musical instrument through which various scholarly and imaginative works could be played. Tangier has a long history of attracting American and European writers and artists. Among those who have been lured to Tangier are Samuel Beckett, Saul Bellow, Jane Bowles, Paul Bowles, William Burroughs, Truman Capote, Mark Twain, Alec Waugh, Edith Wharton, and Tennessee Williams. Diarist Samuel Pepys lived and wrote in Tangier in the 1600s. Henri Matisse painted Tangier from his hotel room in the Villa de France. Tangier and Morocco have been settings for numerous feature films. Most recently such films as Syriana (Casablanca), The Bourne Ultimatum (Tangier), and Babel were shot there on location. Bernardo Bertolucci’s film version of The Sheltering Sky by Paul Bowles was filmed in Tangier and environs. Parts of Alfred Hitchcock’s thriller, The Man Who Knew Too Much was filmed in Marrakech. Casablanca (1943) is considered by many critics to be perhaps the greatest American film and has added to the mystique of Morocco as a place of fascination and refuge for Americans and Europeans.

The conference demonstrated the growing interest in the historical and contemporary interactions between the cultures of Morocco, Europe, and the United States. It was also evident that there is an openness and willingness to examine and discuss both the differences and shared interests of the different cultures using literature, film, and music as points of departure. Numerous panels dealing with Tangier as “locale” or setting and focusing on the works of Paul Bowles, Jane Bowles, various Beat writers, and Moroccan writers helped give the conference a vitally diverse yet unified theme.

The renowned American jazz musician, Randy Weston, who has lived in Tangier off and on since the 1960s, performed with a group of Moroccan Gnaoua musicians, including the Gnaoua master, Abdellah. Randy Weston’s creative use of piano arrangements blended with the hypnotic Moroccan rhythms resulted in a unique style of fusion music. Other highlights included a multimedia art performance piece and the screening of two documentary films on Paul Bowles.

“It is a forum that aims at bridging the gap of difference and connecting cultures, as well as reaching across the divide to the Other. The setting of Tangier makes a perfect home for new intercultural encounters that celebrate and honor our essential humanity. It offers a glimmer of hope during a dark time marked by the gemony of the post 9/11 discourses of horrorism.” --Dr Khalid Amine, Conference Convener.

---Francis Poole
June 2008

From the President of PSi: Performance Studies International

This month I went to Tanger on behalf of PSi to attend Khalid Amine's ICPS: International Center for Performance Studies conference, Performing Tangier 2008. This is an amazing city as you may know and a great place for a conference. Khalid's conference brings together scholars in Literary studies, Ethno-musicology, Middle eastern studies and African studies. Papers were given in Arabic, English, French and Spanish. This is a truly international event and a very welcoming one. I would like to thank them for all their kindness and hospitality. Let me encourage members to think about this conference which is held in May every year as a possible venue for your own work.

---Edward Scheer

May 2008

“Regarding my collaboration with Khalid Amine on the Tangier conference project, I believe it indirectly stemmed from my Fulbright project. When I came to Abdelmalek Essaâdi University in Martil for the 2003-2004 academic year, part of my Fulbright project was to help to establish a scholarly journal in the department. However, as is well known, the English Department was undergoing a painful transition in leadership at that time, which made it impossible to accomplish much within the department during the time I was there. This disappointing situation turned out to be a blessing in disguise since it justified the renewal of my Fulbright award for a second year. Then Khalid Amine came up with the idea of the Tangier conference, and that became a kind of substitute for the original Fulbright project. The first Tangier conference took place in late November 2004 during that second Fulbright year. It was Khalid’s idea from the start, and it provided me with an opportunity to work on a project that would not have been possible within the English Department in Martil at that time. An important key to the conference that first year was a grant from the U.S. Embassy in Rabat through Terry White, who was the Public Affairs guy at that time. Terry provided us with around $6,500 for travel money for participants from the United States. This gave a real boost to the conference the first time around. The second year, I again managed to get a grant through Terry, this time for around $7,500. The third year we got no cooperation from the embassy during the normal rotation of personnel, but for this year’s fourth annual conference, with help from the new Public Affairs officer Mitchell Cohn, embassy support is back in force, along with support from the Fulbright Commission (the Moroccan-American Commission for Education and Cultural Exchange, or MACECE), which I had tried without success to enlist previously. The conference now has enough momentum to survive on its own, but support from the Fulbright Commission and the U.S. Embassy this year has resulted in the best conference to date, which is reflected in the American scholars who gave keynote addresses, including Dwight Reynolds from the University of California at Santa Barbara who was funded by a special grant from the Fulbright Commission, while Jonathan Curiel from the San Francisco Chronicle, Susan Miller from Harvard University, and Allen Hibbard from Middle Tennessee State University, all received travel money from the U.S. Embassy. In addition, there were also presentations by Fulbright fellows who were already in Morocco, including lecturer-research scholar Vanessa Paloma. As with previous Tangier conferences, this latest gathering provided high-powered scholarship in a low-key, friendly atmosphere.”

---Barry Tharaud

March 26, 2008