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Gretchen Head


The Melancholia of a Generation

[Cover of Mohammed Achaari,

Mohammed Achaari, al-Qaws wa-al-farashah. al-Dar al-Bayda’: al-Markaz al-Thaqafi al-ʻArabi, 2010. Mohammed Achaari is not new to Morocco’s literary scene; though The Arch and the Butterfly (al-Qaws wa-al-farashah) is only his second novel, he is the author of nine collections of poetry, a collection of short stories, and has served as both Minister of Culture and president of the Moroccan Writer’s Union. The brief synopses that accompanied the announcement of his selection ...

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Morocco on the Eve of the Demonstrations

[Image from the Mouvement du 20 Fevrier Facebook site]

“When I go out in the street, no cares about #feb20, I connect and boom, the revolution is brewing” (Qd je sors ds la rue, no one cares about #feb20, je me connecte et boom c'est la révolution qui couve). The above, tweeted yesterday in the style of much that’s being produced on the internet about the demonstrations on Sunday — a combination of text message French and English (and often transliterated Darija) — is a perfect encapsulation of the immediate situation, at ...

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Revolutionary Contagion: Morocco and a Plea for Specificity

An image of Mohamed VI of Morocco, featured on the blog

Since January 15th, media discourse on the Arab world has almost uniformly coalesced around a single term, “contagion.” This is a telling semantic choice given the word’s broader associations with disease; a synonym for “infection” or “contamination,” it carries rhetorical connotations that are hardly subtle. The Wall Street Journal has analyzed Egypt’s “contagion risk” (Feb. 1st) and in the past two and a half weeks The New York Times has published at least half a dozen ...

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Gretchen Head


Gretchen Head holds a PhD in Arabic literature from the University of Pennsylvania. In the fall of 2012, she will join the University of California, Berkeley’s Department of Comparative Literature as a postdoctoral fellow.