Manusya, Journal of Humanities

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The link between the American cinema and Morocco was established during the early twentieth century when North Africa became a central concern of both Europe and America. Western travel writers drew on generic conventions centered on wonder and the fantastic to fashion stories about the 'other side' of the world in which the West was positioned as morally and culturally superior to the East. The shift from textual to visual narratives did little to dismantle the imperialistic and Orientalist politics of cultural representation. The period between 1930 and 1956 witnessed considerable visual production on Morocco, which constituted not only a fertile haven but also a little story of Hollywood's Orient. This paper explores and examines the dynamic negotiation and the interchangeable interplay of gender, colonialist enterprise and Orientalist ideology in one of Hollywood's early films: Robert Florey's Outpost in Morocco (1949). Relevant scenes from this movie display how Morocco and Moroccan subjects were subjected to a distinctively American characterization. The paper proposes to analyze, deconstruct and illustrate some of Hollywood's poetics and strategies in the cultural (mis)representation of Moroccan women. Although a number of stereotypical cliches have been developed from within America's biggest imagemaking machine, the screen still offers valid ground for the (re)construction and retrieval of a native agency and genuine scope for native resistance. The study offers, in practical terms, a few 'signs of spectacular resistance,' whereby the camera is reversed to position the Moroccan woman in sequences of privilege and power.

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