Nostalgia for the Present

Ethnography and Photography in a Moroccan Berber Village

David Crawford and Bart Deseyn

Nostalgia for the Present

David Crawford and Bart Deseyn

Distributed for Leiden University Press

with Abdelkrim Bamouh

144 pages | 76 halftones | 9 x 11 | © 2014
Cloth $45.00 ISBN: 9789087282110 Published October 2014 For sale only in the United States, its dependencies, the Philippines, and Canada
Anthropology and photography have been linked since the nineteenth century, but their relationship has never been entirely comfortable—and has grown less so in recent years. Nostalgia for the Present aims to repair that relationship by involving intentional participants in an inclusive conversation; it is the fruit of a collaboration among an ethnographer, a photographer, a group of Moroccan farmers, and Abdelkrim Bamouh—a native intellectual whose deep understanding of rural Morocco made him not merely a translator but a facilitator of the dialogue.

The result is an arresting portrait of everyday life in Tagharghist, a contemporary High Atlas village. The pictures are central, and the text built around them creates a dialogical form of visual ethnography. Nostalgia for the Present is both a memorialization of a people and a way of life, and a rich foray into the potential of interdisciplinary collaboration.

The photos in this book evoke a sense of nostalgia, a longing, and the words explore the contexts and ambiguities that vitalize it. As the book concludes, nostalgia happens in our present, and is about our future. It is a call from our heart (or our liver, as villagers would say) to attend carefully to something we are leaving, something our gut tells us we ought to cherish and preserve, and bring with us on our inexorable march into the unknown.

This book has been published with the support of the Centre Jacques Berque in Morocco.

Prologue: Fatima at Home


I. The Village

II. The Project

III. The People

IV. The Weight of the Past

V. Snapshots

VI. Nostalgia

Structures: Machines for Living

Public Space

Elemental Labor


Epilogue: A Truck I No Longer Love


With Thanks

Review Quotes
Kevin Dwyer, American University in Cairo
“This is an outstanding work, a very original and sensitive collaboration between a photographer and an anthropologist, both of whom know Morocco well—particularly its Berber communities—and who are able to convey, both visually and in prose, the humanity, complexity, and depth of one such community.”
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