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Journal of Transatlantic Studies

, Volume 7, Issue 3, pp 218–232 | Cite as

Tricontinentalism in recent Moroccan intellectual history: the case of Souffles

  • Andy StaffordEmail author
Article

Abstract

The 1960s phenomenon of tricontinentalism, originating in Havana in 1966, had its strongest politico-artistic impact on the African side of the Atlantic in Morocco. We can trace this through the avant-garde journal Souffles, published in Rabat between 1966 and 1972. The intellectual space that Souffles came to dominate lay at the crossroads of different anti-colonial ideologies: both Arabist and keen to promote Berber culture; both Moroccan and Maghrebi as it called for a new culture in North Africa; both pan-Africanist and pan-Arabist; and exhibiting signs of ‘Maoisant’ Marxism to boot. It is thanks largely to the ideological scope of Souffles that Morocco became a pivot for the Tricontinental Movement worldwide.

Keywords

Tricontinental Movement Morocco Souffles Negritude Marxism 

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Notes

  1. 1.
    See also the article by Manuel Barcia in this volume.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Following his death Ben Barka’s memory was maintained by the OSPAAAL (Organización de Solidaridad con los Pueblos de Asia, Africa y America Latina [Organisation of Solidarity of the People of Asia, Africa and Latin America]) through the publication in their journal of his speech as President of the Preparatory Committee for the First Tricontinental Conference; see ‘The Carrier of the Message’, Tricontinental, no. 1 (1967), 86–92, which is a transcript of his speech made in Cuba in 1965, ‘Global Strategy on a Tricontinental Scale’, now republished in Ulises Estrada and Luis Suárez, eds, Rebelión tricontinental: las voces de los condenados de la tierra de Africa, Asia y America Latina (Melbourne/Havana/New York: Ocean Press, in association with Ediciones Tricontinental, 2006), 15–22. Importantly, Ben Barka argued that students - he cited the example of the Moroccan Students’ Union, UNEM (Union des Étudiants du Maroc) - needed to be central to the political debates of the First Tricontinental Conference. Unless otherwise stated, all references in this article are to the English version of Tricontinental.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    See for example Ben Barka, The Political Thought of Ben Barka: Revolutionary Option in Morocco. Political Articles, 1960–1965, trans. by Al-Mahdi Bin Barakah (Havana: Tricontinental, 1968).Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Gilles Perrault, Notre ami le roi (Paris: Gallimard 1990), 94.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Ibid., 96; see also Albert-Paul Lentin, La lutte tricontinentale (Paris: Maspero, 1966), 44. Interestingly, and perhaps not coincidentally, one of the main concessions given to the Moroccan people by Hassan II following the first coup attempt against his rule in July 1971 was, amongst pay rises for workers and tax-exemptions for bicycles and radios, an 18% decrease in the price of sugar; see Perrault, Notre ami, 146.Google Scholar
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    Tricontinental, no. 1 (1967), 104.Google Scholar
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    Lentin, La lutte, 61.Google Scholar
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    F. A. Clément, ‘Panorama de la littérature marocaine d’expression fran¢aise’, Esprit, no. 6 (June 1974), 1062.Google Scholar
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    See Pierre Jalée, ‘Imperialist Contradictions and Integration’, Tricontinental, no. 17 (March/April 1970), 14 (my thanks to Thea Pitman for lending me this number, and for so long!). This evidence of Jalée’s belief (drawn from Harry Magdoff’s influential 1969 book The Age of Imperialism) in the non inter-imperial rivalries pertaining in the world of 1970 was perhaps an early example of today’s globalisation theory.Google Scholar
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    In millions of dollars of aid from the USA, Tunisia received 54.1, Morocco, 37.4, Congo, 25.5 and Guinea, 21.7.Google Scholar
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    To celebrate the 50th anniversary of independence from France in 2005, King Mohammed VI finished the process that he had announced in 2003 and instituted a political and social commission, the IER (Instance Equité et Réconciliation [Reconciliation and Justice Commission]), which used televised sessions to come to terms with the fact that the Moroccan state was involved in up to 16,000 human-rights violation cases. However, though covering the years running from 1955 to 1999, from Independence to Mohammed VI’s accession, the IER takes no account of those who have disappeared since then.Google Scholar
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    There is an excellent chronology of events in Morocco given by Claude Palazzoli in Le Maroc politique: De l’Indépendance à 1973 (Paris: Sindbad, 1974), 452–460, which lists the attempted and aborted coups, strike waves, and refusals by main and Leftist parties to agree to a new constitution, through the 1967–1972 period.Google Scholar
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    Perhaps more sensitive to this issue because published in Paris was the journal launched by Simon Malley in 1969, AfricAsia. Le Journal du tiers-monde. Asie - Monde Arabe -Afrique - Las Americas, and advertised by Souffles (no. 18, 99).Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    The online version of Souffles (http://www.seattleu.edu/souffles/) covers the historic first series (1966–1971, 17 numbers) but not the (brief) second series (1973, 2 numbers).Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    The Arabic counterpart was not simply a translation of the French version, and there is, for an Arabic speaker, an interesting project on the relations between the two. My thanks to Mustapha Lahlali for his various translations of the title Anfas.Google Scholar
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    It was Fanon’s Les damnés de la terre [The Wretched of the Earth] (1961) that had inspired Laâbi; see Laâbi, La brûlure des interrogations: Entretiens réalisés avec Jacques Alessandra (Paris: L’Harmattan, 1985) 31–32.Google Scholar
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    See for example Lacheraf’s important piece, ‘Réflexion autour de la crise du moyen-orient et du conflit impérialisme-tiers-monde’, in Souffles, no. 15 (3rd term, 1969), 45–50.Google Scholar
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    Souffles, no. 12 (1968), 7.Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Maspero charts this difficult moment for him and his radical-Left publishing in late 1960s France in the first number of the new series of the French Tricontinental (‘Le combat de Tricontinental’, Tricontinental, no. 1 (1981), 3–28.Google Scholar
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    See Edouard Glissant, Poetics of Relation, trans. by Betsy Wing (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1997).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    Souffles, no. 9 (1968), 41. All translations into English are my own, unless otherwise stated.Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Abderrahman Tenkoul, ‘Souffles: De la critique à la modernité’, in Tenkoul, ed., Ecritures maghrébines: Lectures croisées (Casablanca: Afrique-Orient, 1991), 81.Google Scholar
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    Mario de Andrade (1928-?), leader of the MPLA (Movimento Popular para a Liberta©ão de Angola [People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola]) in exile, had published in 1959 an anthology of black Lusophone poetry in Paris with the radical publisher Pierre-Jean Oswald, with whom Souffles went on to create, ten years later, the series Atlantes’. Souffles produced a special issue on the Portuguese African colonies in 1970 (no. 19) with Andrade’s important contribution (22–45). See also the French Tricontinental, no. 2 (1968) on the 1968 congress in Havana (68–80), and no. 3 (1969) for Andrade’s ‘Colonialisme, culture et révolution’ (79–88).Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Tricontinental, nos. 4–5 (1968) reproduced Castro’s closing speech to the congress (25-0); both he and Pierre Jalée in the seven-point resolution (77–88) call for an urgency towards ‘development’ in Tricontinental countries, hence the need for intellectuals and writers to come together to push this forward across the world.Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    See Souffles, no. 6, 2nd term (1967), 3 4.Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    See Nene Khaly, ‘Guinea: Revolution and Culture’, in Tricontinental, no. 3 (December 1967), 124–39, and republished in the first number of the French Tricontinental (1968), 101–12. The intervention from the Guinean delegation at the Havana Cultural Conference - an explicitly Sekou Touré- (and implicitly Fanon-)inspired call to cultural arms - spoke of a ‘Révolution culturelle’ coming from the Portuguese African colonies in ways that mirrored OSPAAAL’s call to cultural arms.Google Scholar
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    See Présence Africaine, no. 57 (1966), 205–213.Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    René Depestre, Bonjour et adieu à la négritude (Paris: Laffont, 1980).Google Scholar
  29. 29.
    For examples of solid historical treatments of maroons and runaway slaves see Richard Price, ed., Maroon Societies: Rebel Slave Communities in the Americas, 3rd edn (Baltimore, MD: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996) (concerning mainly Latin/South America and the Caribbean), andGoogle Scholar
  30. 29a.
    John Hope Franklin and Loren Schweninger, Runaway Slave: Rebels on the Plantation (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999) (concerning the USA). Within francophone culture, ‘marronnage’ has also been developed as an oppositional concept. Many have intervened in the elaboration of the concept, however, Edouard Glissant’s definition of ‘marronnage’ as ‘une opposition sociale, politique et culturelle’ is perhaps the most succinct (seeGoogle Scholar
  31. 29b.
    Edouard Glissant, Traité du tout monde: Poétique IV (Paris: Gallimard, 1997), 11–12).Google Scholar
  32. 30.
    Andrade insisted that three factors would influence the new literature and creativity: the need for a language to speak to the people from whom the language comes and in which to speak back; the ‘intentional’ meanings imposed by the coloniser’s language; and the breaking up of this language by African semantics (Souffles, no. 9 (1968), 34–37).Google Scholar
  33. 31.
    One might contrast this bank advertisement in Souffles with those on the back covers of each number of Tricontinental, for example, in nos. 4–5 (January/February 1968) which are amusing parodies of bank advertisements that were appearing in the Economist. Soon, however, the real bank advertisements in Souffles would disappear, no doubt under the influence of Tricontinental. Nevertheless, even as late as 1971 (no. 22), the critique of neocolonialism by Souffles still involved a call for a ‘marocanisation’ of the banks.Google Scholar
  34. 32.
    See Tricontinental, nos. 27–28 (November 1971-February 1972), 156.Google Scholar
  35. 33.
    Compare the front covers of Souffles nos. 1–15 (1966–1969) with the more politically-radical covers of nos. 16–21 in which we see photographs of the Khouribga miners on strike - as a defeat for the workers, this strike is now seen as a key event during the 1965–1975 period.Google Scholar
  36. 34.
    See for example the last line of Abdelaziz Mansouri’s poem ‘Le cauchemar occidental’ in Souffles, nos. 10/11 (2/3 term (1968), 38 43): ‘Ah merde alors/je suis africain et je ne connais même pas Ibn Khaldoun’ [Oh shit, I’m African and I don’t even know who Ibn Khaldoun is] (43); interestingly, Mohammed Aziz Lahbabi’s book, Ibn Khaldoun, had just been published (Paris: Seghers, 1968). For an example of the growing Arabism in Souffles, see the article by the Lebanese poet Adonis (Ali Ahmed Said) in ‘Le manifeste du 5 juin 1967’ (no. 9, 1st term (1968), 1–11), who insists upon poetry as a form of revolution.Google Scholar
  37. 35.
    Bernard Jakobiak, ‘Souffles de 1966–1969’, Europe, nos. 602–603 (1979), 122.Google Scholar
  38. 36.
    Abdellatif Laâbi, Un Continent humain: Entretiens avec Lionel Bourg et Monique Fischer (Vénissieux: Paroles d’Aube, 1997), 60.Google Scholar
  39. 37.
    Abdallah Laroui, L’ideologie arabe contemporaine (Paris: Maspero, 1967), vii–viii.Google Scholar
  40. 38.
    Jacques Berque and Jean Paul Charnay, eds, L’Ambivalence dans la culture arabe (Paris: Anthropos, 1967).Google Scholar
  41. 39.
    See Abdellatif Laâbi, ‘Avant-propos’, Souffles no. 22 (November-December 1971), 3.Google Scholar
  42. 40.
    Louis Antoine de Saint-Just, Dictionnaire de la conversation et de la lecture: Inventaire raisonné des notions générales les plus indispensables à tous, ed. by Charles Nodier (Paris: William Duckett et Michel Lévy Frères, 1857), 683.Google Scholar
  43. 41.
    Abdellatif Laâbi, Les Rêves sont têtus: Ecrits politiques (Paris: Editions Paris-Méditerranée, 2001), 12.Google Scholar
  44. 42.
    Laâbi, Un Continent humain, 61.Google Scholar
  45. 43.
    Souffles no. 2, new series (October 1973), 13.Google Scholar
  46. 44.
    Souffles, no. 19 (1970) had already signalled its full support of Western Saharan independence (46 48).Google Scholar
  47. 45.
    See article by Pablo San Martín in this volume.Google Scholar
  48. 46.
    See Estrada and Suárez, eds, Rebelión tricontinental, 2.Google Scholar
  49. 47.
    Fran©ois Maspero, ‘Editorial’, Tricontinental, Paris -new series, no. 1 (1981), 9. The Paris-based Tricontinental edited by Maspero showed more perspicacity, devoting a section of the first number of 1970 to the student wing of the UNFP in Paris, ‘Le 14e anniversaire de l’Indépendance marocaine sous le signe de la répression’ [‘The 14th Anniversary of Moroccan Independence Marked by Repression’] (no. 4 (1970), 107–109), which pointed out that in the 1965 riots the average age of the thousand people killed by the Moroccan police and army was sixteen, and that in the Settat peasant uprising of 1969 six protestors were killed by the Moroccan government.Google Scholar
  50. 48.
    Vijay Prashad, The Darker Nations: A People’s History of the Third World (New York: The New Press, 2007), 279.Google Scholar
  51. 49.
    See Maspero’s preface to the new series of the French Tricontinental, no. 1 (1981), 10.Google Scholar
  52. 50.
    Edward Said, After the Last Sky: Palestinian Lives, with photographs by Jean Mohr (London: Faber & Faber, 1986), 107.Google Scholar
  53. 51.
    Perrault, Notre ami, 110–113.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Board of Transatlantic Studies 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of FrenchUniversity of LeedsLeedsUK

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