Morocco: The Spaces of Difference


Madeline Quasebarth is a student at Carnegie Mellon University and an ISA Photo Blogger. She studied abroad with ISA Service Learning in Meknes, Morocco.

When you put two widely different colors next to each other one of two things can happen: 1. One color completely dominates the other, somehow subtracting from the beauty of both colors or 2. The contrasting colors complement each other, making one another more beautiful while demonstrating to the viewer nuances of the color that they may have never noticed before.

Waves crashing upon the shores of Rabat.

In many ways Morocco is the essence of the latter, it is able to maintain this idea of tradition, heritage, of the very old, while simultaneously balancing the notion of modernity and the very new. This juxtaposition of the two can be seen in both everyday life and within its plethora of historical monuments.

Daily Life: A tannery in Fez, still using the same methods today as hundreds of years ago.
The gate (Bab Mansour, built in 1732) marking the old city from the new, still offering shade to passersby.

It is rare for someone to have the option and ability to witness the implementation of this extreme binary division of old and new in an incredible cohesive manner. The result, from an outsider’s perspective, is what makes Morocco so beautiful and exemplary. However, it also highlights different societal issues within Morocco that may feel that friction of tradition versus modernity as a harsh force rather than a beautiful one.

Two windows found in Fez, the one on the left with the wooden covering was originally used as to keep women from being seen by people walking by, the one on the right a common place window seen throughout the city
Outside of a gate in Marrakesh one can see the old means of surveillance, a booth to hold a guard, next to the new means of surveillance, a CCTV camera.

Nonetheless, that being said due to the fact that culture is not stagnant but moreover a constantly morphing entity it needs its own ingredients to thrive. Each culture is like its own unique type of plant, and as with all plants, some needs lots light and water while with others too much water might destroy it, and prevent its growth.

A fountain found in the Roman Ruin of Chellah, right outside Rabat, which was used in the time of Ancient Rome to bring water to residents and is still used today for that same purpose.

Without this constant juxtaposition between old and new in daily life, in art, in architecture, Morocco would be missing its key ingredients which allow its culture to thrive. It is only when we have these contrasting concepts that we can see the full spectrum and beauty that inhabits the spaces of difference.

The Ancient Roman Ruin of Voulibilis, in the distance one can see the town of Moulay Idriss.
A couple looks upon the sunset of Chefchaouen, a view people throughout history have viewed and continue to view today. A view the bridges people throughout time and space together.

The world awaits…discover it.

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