Sustained interest

August 23, 2012

"Morocco mission aims to build bridges and silence scepticism" (News, 28 June) stated that Maghrebi studies have been neglected in the UK academy. This is incorrect: they have been flourishing since the 1950s.

After the independence of Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Libya, Maghrebi studies became an interest of a number of high-profile British scholars, including Ernest Gellner, Albert Hourani, Robin Bidwell and David Seddon. In my Abstracts of English Language Theses on Morocco 1928-2000, I list more than 100 PhD theses presented at British universities on the subject: one notable example, Frederick V. Parsons' University of London PhD in 1954 on "The Morocco Question (1880-1892)", was later published by Duckworth as The Origins of the Morocco Question 1880-1900 (1976).

Gellner, Ken Brown, Michael Brett, Keith Sutton and I founded the Maghreb Studies Association in 1981 precisely to promote the subject worldwide. Next year's MSA conference, Colonial Heritage in the Middle East and the Maghreb: the Shaping of Hopes and Perspectives, will take place at Mansfield College, Oxford on 24 and 25 June.

Mohamed Ben-Madani, Editor, The Maghreb Review

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