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A Q&A with Expert Moshe Gershovich

By | April 6, 2014
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Q: What will be the most enduring effects of French colonial rule (other than language) that our travelers will experience in Morocco? 



A: In one word: accessibility. If it weren’t for the French, we could never visit the mountainous Moroccan countryside. Until the French had imposed their rule the area was known as Bilad al-Siba (land of anarchy). The imperial government had little authority there. It took the French army 27 years to conquer the Middle and High Atlas. When they finally subdued the last bastions of resistance they firmly incorporated them within a centralized state. The French provided security and disarmed the Berber tribes. They created an infrastructure, paved roads and connected remote villages with the rest of the country. In so doing, they made it possible for people to migrate to the large cities and inadvertently enhanced the sense of Moroccan nationalism, resulting in decolonization and independence.

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Dr. Moshe Gershovich

Dr. Moshe Gershovich is Professor of Modern Middle Eastern History at the University of Nebraska-Omaha (UNO). A native of Israel, he earned a B.A. at Tel Aviv University and a Ph.D. in history and Middle Eastern studies at Harvard University. He taught for three years at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology before traveling to Morocco in 1998 as a Fulbright Senior Scholar to research the oral history of Moroccan veterans of the French Army. Moshe resided in Morocco between 1998 and 2000 during which time he also taught at Al-Akhawayn University in Ifrane. In recent years, Moshe has taken groups of UNO students to Morocco where they were immersed in the study of Arabic and North African history and culture. He is fluent in Hebrew, French, and Moroccan Arabic.

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