100 Years in Tangier

An interdisciplinary research initiative on the city of Tangier

On December 18th, 1923, the League of Nations decided the governments of France, Spain and the United Kingdom would jointly administer the city of Tangier — all three of these nation states wanted control of Tangier, a strategic port city in the projects of European empire. Under the “Tangier Protocol,” these states created a politically neutral, demilitarized, international zone.[1] Since 1923, the international zone has ceased to exist, but Tangier has remained a space of exception.

Fast forward a century and Tangier is governed by Morocco. However, scholars of political science and international relations have argued that the European Union has all but redrawn its borders to include cities like Tangier (Marcelino and Farahi 883). EU influence in Tangier and in other strategic areas of northern and western Africa (especially in nations known as “transit states”) is largely correlated with the burgeoning “migrant crisis.”

This project traces the contours of Tangier’s exceptionalism over the last 100 years and documents how they have mirrored political changes. That exceptionalism has been recorded in work of writers and artists whose cultural production, in turn, has consolidated Tangier’s reputation for exceptionalism in the public imaginary.

[1] The agreement had to be amended in May of 1924 before it was ratified and, later, the governments of Italy, Portugal, Belgium, the Netherlands, Sweden and the United States officially recognized the co-administrative project.