Murder in Marrakesh
Émile Mauchamp and the French Colonial Adventure
Publication Year: 2006
Published by: Indiana University Press
Title Page, Copyright, Dedication
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In a casual conversation, Susan Gilson Miller once remarked to me that “in Morocco, no one dies without a reason.” Her offhand observation became the title of chapter 7, but it could well be the subtitle of this book. At the outset of my research, I never thought that...
Note on Transliteration and Names
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For Arabic words, I have employed a simplified system of transliteration based on the one found in Hans Wehr’s A Dictionary of Modern Written Arabic. In a few instances I have used a spelling that approximates common pronunciation, for example, mellah instead of...
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This book is about a murder and its consequences. It seemed like a senseless murder at the time when it took place in Marrakesh on March 19, 1907. It is thus a book about yesterday’s news, now long beyond the reach of living memory. Some of the most important...
Part 1. Life
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1. Civilization’s Martyr
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The spring of 1907 was an especially dolorous time for France. On March 12 an accidental explosion of munitions blew up the 12,000-ton warship I�na in the port of Toulon. One hundred eighteen men died. The following week, in an episode of obvious sentimental...
2. The Road to Marrakesh
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Beginning in 1904, Th�ophile Delcass�, the French foreign minister, threw his avid support behind the idea of sending French doctors to Morocco and created a Moroccan Medical Aid Service. While entirely consistent with the official policy that France should extend...
3. Europeans and Jews
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At the turn of the century, explorers such as Segonzac and Doutt� had visited Marrakesh and written accounts of the city, but apart from a handful of missionaries and commercial agents who represented European firms headquartered in Tangier, few Europeans had...
4. A Doctor in Marrakesh
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By December 1905, Mauchamp’s clinic was up and running, at least for the time being, in the disputed but now remodeled Dar Ould Bellah house. Mauchamp wrote enthusiastic letters to all and sundry, extolling the immediate success of his practice. To the Morocco...
5. False Starts and False Reports
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To many observers southern Morocco seemed primed to explode in the second half of 1906. Throughout the summer rumors circulated that Moulay Hafid was about to proclaim himself sultan in Marrakesh. In nearby Essaouira an inexplicable panic seized the Jewish...
6. March 19, 1907
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At the start of February 1907, with his furlough in France at an end, Mauchamp left Chalon for the long journey to Marrakesh. In Tangier he joined up with the geologist Louis Gentil, who was traveling with his wife and their six-year-old daughter, Suzanne. With funding...
Part 2. Death
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7. In Morocco, No One Dies without a Reason
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In the aftermath of Mauchamp’s death a controversy immediately arose. What was it exactly on the doctor’s roof that had incited his Moroccan neighbors to violence? The official Moroccan version— disseminated throughout the country in a letter from the...
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A quarter century after his departure, Georges Saint-René Taillandier wrote a memoir of his five years as France’s minister to Morocco. Saint-René Taillandier left Morocco in 1906, soon after Mauchamp’s arrival. His tenure coincided with such notable events as the granting...
9. The Crisis of the Month
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While Moroccan negotiators in Tangier engaged in “tergiversation,” as Regnault put it, justice spun its wheels in Marrakesh. Under pressure to arrest Mauchamp’s murderers, Hajj Abdeslam al-Warzazi, first apprehended two men. One, identified as being from the...
10. Remains of the Day
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As for the handful of European businessmen and missionaries who had fled to the coast in June 1907, they soon trickled back to Marrakesh. But there, only a few weeks after their return, the news of the murdered European workers in Casablanca revived fears that...
Conclusion: The Old Morocco
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Mauchamp’s memory was supposed to last forever. On that day in April 1907 when his mortal remains were laid to rest in the cemetery of Chalon-sur-Saône, one orator prophesied that Mauchamp’s example would “sustain imitators among our generous and chivalrous French...
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Page Count: 376
Illustrations: 13 b&w photos
Publication Year: 2006