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International Tangier: Exhibit in Rotch Library

Images from the early 20th and 21st century on display

Europeans and Moroccans in front of Bab Dar Dbagh, ca. 1920

Europeans and Moroccans in front of Bab Dar Dbagh, ca. 1920

For centuries European powers battled one another and Moroccan forces for control of the city of Tangier, strategically positioned on the Straits of Gibraltar where the Mediterranean Sea meets the Atlantic Ocean. In 1924 an agreement made the city a demilitarized “International Zone,” administered by European representatives, yet still nominally under Moroccan sovereignty. With the exception of a period of five year occupation by the Spanish during World War II, some variation of this arrangement remained in place until the city was returned to Moroccan sovereignty in 1956.

An exhibition at Rotch Library highlights this period with prints made from the glass negatives collection of the Tangier American Legation Institute for Moroccan Studies (TALIM) in Morocco. It will be on display through December 27 in the gallery to the right of the circulation desk. The photographs, which have never been exhibited in the United States, date from roughly 1900 to 1930, a period that saw the city of Tangier undergoing a growth that has been unrivaled until recent decades. Not only is Tangier now seeing a radical transformation due to new construction and infrastructure improvements, but there is also a growing emphasis on historic preservation of the built environment. The exhibition highlights that by juxtaposing the older black and white images against more recent photographs of the places depicted.

The exhibition, curated by Dr. Michael A. Toler, Archnet Content Manager, is hosted by the Aga Khan Documentation Center at MIT, and organized in collaboration with the Program in Middle Eastern Studies and the office of Career Education of Wellesley College, the three parties collaborating to assist TALIM in the preservation of the glass negatives collection. In the summers between 2013 and 2016 interns from Wellesley College went to Tangier and scanned all 2,000 negatives in TALIM’s collection, creating high resolution surrogates so the originals could be placed in cold storage. A catalog of the complete collection of negatives has been made available on Archnet, and contains images of Algeria, France, Spain, and other locations throughout Morocco.

On November 17th at 7:30 pm, AKDC@MIT and Wellesley College’s Program in Middle Eastern Studies will host a joint reception for the exhibition and “Retrospective: 15 Years of AKPIA Posters” in in Rotch Library (7-238).” The exhibition opened on October 29th and will run through December 27th.

A virtual version of the exhibition is now available on Archnet.