Please join us for the dissertation defense of Sumayya Ahmed on Monday, May 9, from 2-4 p.m. in Manning 208.
Title: "We Call on Citizens to be Aware of the Value of what is in Their Homes:" A Case Study of the Hassan II Prize for Manuscripts and Archival Documents
Abstract: Archival documents were seen to be important tools for restoring the historical character and geographic integrity of the nation in post-colonial Morocco. In a country where the number of historic manuscripts in private collections are believed to outnumber what is currently held by public libraries and archives, with a tendency towards nondisclosure and even the hiding of historic manuscripts in Morocco, the Hassan II Prize for Manuscripts and Archival Documents was began in 1968/9 as a way to gain access to records in private collections. This dissertation sets out understand how the Hassan II Prize elicited approximately 35,000 submissions in the almost fifty years since its inception. Specifically, how did the Hassan II Prize overcome resistance to archival disclosure and negotiated access to private collections with or without the perceived loss of possession by owners; and what motivating factors contributed to manuscript holders submitting their records to the Prize?
The Hassan II Prize was studied as an explanatory, qualitative case study using multiple sources of data including 14 semi-structured interviews with submitters to and administrators of the Prize, participant observation of the 2015 Hassan II Prize process, analysis of local periodicals, government and historic documents, as well as of microfilm and digital copies of submitted manuscripts that are stored at the Moroccan National Library (BNRM). Interviews identified four main themes related to participation in the Hassan II Prize: national identity and heritage, loss (material and intellectual), religious charity, and prize money. This research seeks to introduce participant narratives, which have been absent from the official documentation of the Prize in favor of the texts of their historic manuscripts and documents, into the archival record.