Spectral Modernisms: Decolonial Aesthetics and Haunting in the Aftershock of Morocco's Agadir Earthquake (1960)


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships


History of Art


How does our understanding of avant-gardism and decolonization change in light of ecological catastrophes and phenomena? This dissertation is the first study to track how a geological event, namely the 1960 Agadir earthquake, gave rise to yet also haunted decolonial projects, nation-building efforts, and modernist (re)formations in Morocco. The disaster was not the earthquake itself, but the effects of the earthquake which were mediated through decades of neglectful housing policies by colonial urbanists in Morocco and the nation-building efforts of the newly independent government. A crisis long in the making, the disaster induced by the earthquake was a revelatory event that laid bare and exposed structures of power and dominance in Morocco that lingered from the colonial period into the postcolonial as concretely manifested in the architecture and urbanism of Agadir and aesthetic modernisms of Morocco. The earthquake, thus, unleashed the hidden specters of the past and present that came to haunt Morocco’s future.