Contested space in the Kasbah of Marrakech: place, modernity and discourse, the Kasbah of Marrakech 1985 to 2004
2018-08-17T16:24:23Z (GMT) by
The Kasbah, in origin a late twelfth-century citadel, occupies within the walled city of Marrakech a sovereign territory defined by its historical and present administrative boundaries. It is proposed that the Kasbah has in the last two decades fragmented into a contested space in which the shifting dynamics of differing interpretations of cultural ownership have displaced traditional confrontations with modernity. It is argued that the displacements, ambiguities and ambivalence surrounding contesting interpretations of cultural ownership of urban space might be identified as a 'local modernity' (to be differentiated from the modernity closely identified with global economic centres such as New York, London or Tokyo, which may be characterized as world cities). Contested space in the Kasbah—as in any current urban situation—is so complex that this thesis is structured through selective analyses of representations of space, time, culture, authority and authenticity in the competing but overlapping claims of the discourse of cultural heritage, the academic discourse, the Palace discourse and the discourse of tourism. In analysing contested space in the Kasbah, discourse is understood as corresponding to Michel Foucault's interest in what is assumed to be self-evident, 'natural' and therefore outside time. The formation of each discourse is discussed in order to identify its origins and to question what is taken to be timeless or universal. Analysis of the contested ownership—cultural rather than economic—of space focuses on interpretations of key terms and concepts ('space', 'time', 'culture', 'authority' and 'authenticity') that are indicative of competing discursive claims.