AiR Sidi Ali Book List

Recommended book list related to AiR Sidi Ali
CMJN de base

This book list has been compiled for those interested in the AiR Sidi Ali project and its relevant cultural topics. Culture Vulture encourages artists accepted for AiR Sidi Ali to read a few of the selected books and essays listed blow to partially grasp what they are stepping into. The Moussem of Sidi Ali is a rich and powerful experience for locals, resident foreigners, and visitors to Morocco, both old and new.  

Thuhami Portrait of a Moroccan -Vincent Crapanzano

In a sensitive and bold experiment in interpretive ethnography, Crapanzano presents Tuhami’s bizarre account of himself and his world. In so doing, Crapanzano draws on phenomenology, psychoanalysis, and symbolism to reflect upon the nature of reality and truth and to probe the limits of anthropology itself. Tuhami has become one of the most important and widely cited representatives of a new understanding of the whole discipline of anthropology.

Tuhami is an illiterate Moroccan tile maker who believes himself married to a camel-footed she-demon. A master of magic and a superb story-teller, Tuhami lives in a dank, windowless hovel near the kiln where he works. Nightly he suffers visitations from the demons and saints who haunt his life, and he seeks, with crippling ambivalence, liberation from ‘A’isha Qandisha, the she-demon.


Click here to the Amazon link

Hamasha.  A study in Morocco  – Vincent Crapanzano


Find it on Amazon here

Leila Abuozeid – Year of the Elephant: A Moroccan Woman’s Journey Towards Independence.

First published in Arabic in 1983, Year of the Elephant raises many issues of language, decolonization and European cultural hegemony that are of direct relevance to contemporary post-colonial literary theory.

year of the elehantBuy it here

Love with a Few Hairs- Mohammed Mrabet.

Transcribed by Paul Bowles

Mohammed Mrabet

This one, like most of Mrabet’s work brings tears to my eyes. It is joyous, sad, sweet and beautifully translated/transcripted by Paul Bowles. Deceptively simple, a lot to be read between the lines.

Find it on Amazon here

Edith Wharton –  In Morocco


Edith Wharton, January 24, 1862 – August 11, 1937) was a Pulitzer Prize-winning American novelist, short story writer, and designer.

“Having begun my book with the statement that Morocco still lacks a guide-book, I should have wished to take a first step toward remedying that deficiency. But the conditions in which I travelled, though full of unexpected and picturesque opportunities, were not suited to leisurely study of the places visited. The time was limited by the approach of the rainy season, which puts an end to motoring over the treacherous trails of the Spanish zone. In 1918, owing to the watchfulness of German submarines in the Straits and along the northwest coast of Africa, the trip by sea from Marseilles to Casablanca, ordinarily so easy, was not to be made without much discomfort and loss of time. Once on board the steamer, passengers were often kept in port (without leave to land) for six or eight days; therefore for any one bound by a time-limit, as most war-workers were, it was necessary to travel across country, and to be back at Tangier before the November rains”–Pref.

Download a copy  here

Vincent J. Cornell – Realm of the Saint: Power and Authority in Moroccan Sufism

In premodern Moroccan Sufism, sainthood involved not only closeness to the Divine presence (walaya) but also the exercise of worldly authority (wilaya). The Moroccan Jazuliyya Sufi order used the doctrine that the saint was a “substitute of the prophets” and personification of a universal “Muhammadan Reality” to justify nearly one hundred years of Sufi involvement in Moroccan political life, which led to the creation of the Ssharifian state.


This book presents a systematic history of Moroccan Sufism through the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries C.E. and a comprehensive study of Moroccan Sufi doctrine, focusing on the concept of sainthood. Vincent J. Cornell engages in a sociohistorical analysis of Sufi institutions, a critical examination of hagiography as a source for history, a study of the Sufi model of sainthood in relation to social and political life, and a sociological analysis of more than three hundred biographies of saints. He concludes by identifying eight indigenous ideal types of saint that are linked to specific forms of authority. Taken together, they define sainthood as a socio-religious institution in Morocco.

Find it here

An insightful article on Gnaoua by Deborah Kapchan, Professor, researcher and writer.


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