Moroccan Noir

Moroccan Noir

Police, Crime, and Politics in Popular Culture
Smolin, Jonathan
Distribution: World
Publication date: 10/23/2013
Format: Paperback 20 b&w illus.
ISBN: 978-0-253-01065-0
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Winner, 2014 L. Carl Brown AIMS Book Prize, American Institute for Maghrib Studies

Facing rising demands for human rights and the rule of law, the Moroccan state fostered new mass media and cultivated more positive images of the police, once the symbol of state repression, reinventing the relationship between citizen and state for a new era. Jonathan Smolin examines popular culture and mass media to understand the changing nature of authoritarianism in Morocco over the past two decades. Using neglected Arabic sources including crime tabloids, television movies, true-crime journalism, and police advertising, Smolin sheds new light on politics and popular culture in the Middle East and North Africa.

Author Bio

Jonathan Smolin is Associate Professor of Asian and Middle Eastern Languages and Literatures at Dartmouth College. His publications include a translation of Abdelilah Hamdouchi's The Final Bet: A Modern Arabic Novel.


Manifest[s] years of painstaking research that come to fruition at a time when its topic—cultures and practices of policing in the Arab world—could not be more urgent for students, scholars, and commentators. . . . Smolin fashions a new critical approach to the question of authoritarianism in the Arabic-speaking region.[I]n every conceivable way a pioneering piece of research, one that is based on an enormous amount of digging in newspaper archives, and demanding the patience of Job in confronting any number of administrative hurdles and outright impediments. The resulting text is a triumph, one that combines a detailed account of the social contexts and profound changes in Moroccan society over the past half century with a series of astute analyses of examples of the sub-genre of police fiction. . . . Combining an analysis of the gradual liberalization of Moroccan government policy toward the press and publicity with astute discussions of reportage and fictional narratives both in print and on television, Smolin not only shows his critical acumen as a literature scholar but also offers a unique picture of social change in Morocco.A very timely and well-framed book . . . opens up a new frontier of research in the domain of media and state. . . . fluid and successful in analyzing one of the most powerful institutions in the country since independence even without being able to enter its secret forts.

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Table of Contents

Note on Transliteration, Translation, and Style

Introduction: State, Mass Media, and the New Moroccan Authoritarianism
1. Police on Trial: The Tabit Affair, Newspaper Sensationalism, and the End of the Years of Lead
2. "He Butchered His Wife Because of Witchcraft and Adultery": Crime Tabloids, Moral Panic, and the Remaking of the Moroccan Cop
3. Crime-Page Fiction: Moroccan True Crime and the New Independent Press
4. Prime-Time Cops: Blurring Police Fact and Fiction on Moroccan Television
5. The Moroccan "Serial Killer" and CSI: Casablanca
6. From Morocco's 9/11 to Community Policing: State Advertising and the New Citizen
Epilogue: "The Police Are at the Service of the People"


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