I am here in Morocco for the third time.
One thing that has really stood out to me on this trip is the visibility of our global consumer culture in Morocco (or anywhere, really).
I view globalization as a mixed bag. There is a lot of criticism of globalized media as being a culture killer. However, I don’t see it this way. The spread of music, film and so forth, in itself, doesn’t kill traditional culture, but provides for fusions to be added to the cultural spectrum. This can be seen in the 60’s and 70’s Gnawa movement, in Morocco, where traditional Moroccan Gnawa music was fused with jazz, blues and psychadelic and a uniquely Moroccan youth culture developed out of it.
However, now the globalization of culture is paired with the form of globalization I see as being more negative, which is that of trade and consumer goods. It damages local economies, which leads to shifts in production (such as switching from multi-crop rotation to single crop industrialized agriculture), which in turn has detrimental effects on the environment. On top of all of that, all of these goods are packaged and packaged some more, only for said packaging to be discarded and left in a trash heap. This is especially an issue in a place like Morocco, which has yet to fully resolve what to do with all this garbage. Garbage cans are few and far between and recycling is nearly unheard of. Littering is common practice, because what else can one do? Maybe this is the big problem with the globalization of culture, as so much contemporary “culture” is commercialized, packaged, promoting further consumption until itself is discarded for the next global pop scene.
Let me ease off the preaching here. What has brought to this subject to mind is the time our class has been spending in the neighborhood of Agdal, Rabat, where our courses are located. In my previous time in Rabat, I mostly stayed in the more working class neighborhoods of Youssoufia and Mabella, which seem worlds apart from the wealthier Agdal. One could easily forget that Agdal is Morocco and not rich American downtown, like La Jolla, with streets lined with high end fashion boutiques (I may be too out of touch to name drop any off the top of my head) that can be found in the world abound, as well as your McDonald’s and KFCs. It appears that buying and showing off what you have bought is the major pastime here.
Youssoufia and Mabella, on the other hand, primarily consist of small corner stores, cafes and small specialized food joints. The attitude I have picked up in these neighborhoods is “why buy anything we don’t need, besides cigarettes and occasional munchies?” Unfortunately, many essential goods are all commodified and packaged, so litter is still ubiquitous.
I’m not sure if I am driving at a deeper message about class stratification here or just pointing out some interesting contrasts, but it’s interesting, no?
Coca-Cola pervades all locations and walks of life, however. I recently saw a Coca-Cola poster I found fascinating. It had about 6 bottles of Coke, each, in place of its logo, had a different term of endearment for friend, loved one or family, in Darija and French: “Khoya,” “Habibi,” “3shiri,” “Mon Ami,” and so forth. This is nothing new, but at this point, American advertising tends to be a bit more discrete than to so plainly equate a soda to friends and family, though no less manipulative. Well, I thought that was interesting.
Anyway, Coca-Cola and Pepsi are everywhere. The whole world’s going to get diabetes and cancer. No one wins.
Julia Akerman on The Mother Teresa of Moro… mom on Lunch with felines mom on Hammam a l’ocean mom on Fez! Maternal and Infant… on Observing the Police