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American Folklife Center Collections: North Africa

This guide provides access to ethnographic resources documenting expressive culture in the nations of North Africa at the Library of Congress.


Alan Lomax, collector. Image 10 of Alan Lomax Collection, Manuscripts, Morocco, 1967 Sept. Alan Lomax Collection. Library of Congress American Folklife Center.

This regional guide is part of a series of guides dedicated to documenting the diversity of expressive culture in Africa. Each guide represents one of five geographical regions, thereby reflecting the designations set forth by the African Union: Eastern Africa, Western Africa, Central Africa, Northern Africa, and Southern Africa. The American Folklife Center recognizes that differing regional designations exist (including those used by the United Nations and the African Development Bank Group) and offers this series of guides to enhance awareness of and facilitate access to its African collections.

American Folklife Center collections from Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, and Egypt document the diversity of expressive culture in northern Africa. This research guide focuses on activities, such as fieldwork, interpretation, and programming, which present the folklore and folklife of this region to the public. Among the Center's unique materials are Amice Calverley recordings of Cretan and Egyptian music and the Abraham Pinto recordings of Sephardic Jewish and Berber music in Morocco.

Alan Lomax in Morocco, 1967

As described by the Association for Cultural Equity:

In September 1967, Alan Lomax visited Morocco to make field recordings for use in his comparative research on world folk song style. He recorded in Fez, Marrakesh, the Ourika Valley, Ouzarzate, Tinjdad, El Ksiba, Erford, and other Berber villages in the High Atlas.The approximately eight hours of material includes malhoun, amdah, and Andalusian styles of the Maghreb; wedding music; and various religious rituals of the Gnawa and the Aissaoua and Hamadcha Sufi brotherhoods. There are also speech samples, recorded throughout the medina of Fez for use in Lomax's Parlametrics research. Joan Halifax accompanied Lomax on this trip.

The American Folklife Center has made Lomax's manuscripts from this visit available online. The Association for Cultural Equity External has made thirty-one recordings from this trip available online.

Additional Collections of Interest

The following materials link to fuller bibliographic information in the Library of Congress Online Catalog. Links to digital content are provided when available.

Podcasts and Blog Posts

Public Programming

Ethnomusicologist Samuel Torjman Thomas discusses the circulation of Moroccan music in America and the place of music in constructing modern Moroccan-American hybrid identities. 

Musical Soundscapes of Morocco: From Africa to America