Mapping the Maghrib

Social and Political Landscapes

This project is part of the mission of the Center and it is managed by Edward Oetting, Matthew Toro, and Chouki El Hamel.

The Maghrib or “West” (West of Egypt initially), is a distinct region of space, peoples, cultures and languages stretching to include areas of Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya and Mauritania within the fluid bounds of the Atlas Mountains, The Atlantic and the Mediterranean and, of course, the Sahara. While Islam has been a constant both religiously and culturally, the Maghrib as a recognized region has forged an identity and a permanence outside the “ruling” states and empires throughout its existence. The Mapping the Maghrib project is a multifaceted attempt to “map” the region’s culture, peoples and history with both focused efforts and a multi-disciplinary interactive presence on the internet. Building on the successes of ASU Library and the School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies in telling and presenting “important stories” and providing rigorous academic examination of significant historical ideas and trends, the project will present a critical dissection and electronic presentation of the ideological, political, historical, cultural, language, music, artistic representations, and religious milieu of the region and its geography. Ultimately, the seed grant phase of the Mapping the Maghrib project will generate discourse on a critical cartographic and geographic history of the Maghrib and amplify that discourse to the broader scholarly and public community by prototyping digital story-telling and geo-visualization methods.

In practical terms, completion of the following activities will achieve these goals:

  • Compiling a comprehensive map database cataloging relevant maps of the region (~7th Century -present time)
  • Digitizing multiple maps not yet digitally available for public consumption.
  • Mapping the archival silences on slavery, race and gender.
  • Developing an interactive story-telling web application to integrate the aforementioned visualization application and communicate a broader critical historical-cultural narrative
  • Organizing, coordinating, and hosting a one-day symposium / mini-conference to generate a broader transdisciplinary discourse on the “Maghrib, and its Peoples in Time and Space.”
  • A repository or archive (in conjunction with the ASU special collections library) to house books, manuscripts, conference proceedings, and personal papers.