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The Myth of Citadinité

Abstract of paper to be presented by Susan Gilson Miller, Harvard University, at the conference "Islam Re-Observed: Clifford Geertz in Morocco"

The notion of citadinité  (“belonging  to and in a city”) was central to Clifford Geertz’s thinking about cities. His understanding of the concept was the frame through which he viewed the powerful processes of urban change taking place in post-independence Morocco. The genealogy of the concept moves across discourses and political programs, from Ibn Khaldun, to colonial imaginings of  the “Islamic city,” to late twentieth century debates about what the city should become, and for whom it is intended.  Using historical sources to buttress our argument, we show the various paths along which the concept evolved and how it came to be used by both the left and the right as a prescription for urban development.

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