Tangier, Morocco: Dissertation Abstract


This is a study of competing images, ideas, and experiences of/in Tangier. It traces enduring place-themes from the point of view of visitors and city outsiders. To some it is a place of freedom, creativity, and intrigue, and to others it is a place of hassles, hustles, and decay. Even without a visit to the city, people form perceptions and place-images of it. Take Moscow, it is well-known by its most famous place: the Kremlin on Red Square. Such word-image associations are powerful and convey a “sense of place.” This is contested ground however, like Venice’s persona as the “city of romance” that flourishes alongside its prevalent decay and overcrowding. Likewise, the multiple “worlds” of Tangier and how to mediate between differing place-conceptions is the dissertation’s subject.

A geographic framework is proposed, using triangular conceptualization to transcend analytical dichotomies, where the shared “outer worlds” of the environment and the personal “inner worlds” of the mind and body are mediated by “interactive worlds” composed of human experiences and expressions. To place a broad range of complex phenomena in the foreground of the study narrative-description, geoautobiography, and visual-essays are used. The study contributes to the ongoing city dialogue at a time when numerous significant changes are underway including building a tunnel to Spain.

The study works from three overlapping realms. The city as imagined from the world stage and through history is considered. It is conceptualized as an “island” place that has long been well connected to the world while also retaining distinctive and multicultural qualities. The city as represented in a variety of media is interrogated. It is visualized as a place where fantasy and desire combine to create both attraction and repulsion. The city as experienced at the street level is explored. It is read as a place where abrupt compression and expansion of space leads to confusion and heighten intrigue. The study concludes that place-narratives contribute as active agents in the place-making of the city alongside natural forces and constructed environments. Equally important, place-narratives contribute to increased human awareness, appreciation, understanding and connectedness to the world.

Key words:

experience, geoautobiography, Mediterranean urbanism, Morocco, narrative-description, place-based research, place-narrative, sense of place, Tangier, tourism, visual-essay

The dissertation is available for viewing and purchase: click here

Thank you to my committee!
Julie Graham, Liz Petroff, Dick Wilkie

George F. Roberson, PhD

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