I've been spending a bit of time over the past few weeks at a couple of maquis because fellow PhD polisci student Marion is in town. She's the only other PhD student that I know here (and I'm making the distinction between PhD and master's student, of which there are a number – from SAIS, Geneva, Oxford – doing their international development fieldwork).
So we've been discussing our dissertation (and advisor) troubles over beers, poulet braisé, alloco, and frites, just like the maquis gods intended.
Wartime Hymns just posted a description and political context of Abidjan's maquis, though I admit to not really staying late enough to experience the dancing. Even without the music and dancing, I love the general culture of sitting outside, though not under the sun, drinking a bit with friends or colleagues, people watching, eating, more drinking, more eating, and more people watching – and on the cheap. I think maquis will be one of the things I miss the most when I leave Abidjan.
Little by little, more is being written about Cote d'Ivoire's recent trials and its economic transformation, all viewed through a lens of the upcoming October elections (exact date TBD). French-language media is generally a better source, but English-language analysis is slowly catching up.
"Court decision deepens Ivory Coast opposition rift" for Reuters, by Joe Bavier
"Côte d’Ivoire’s victor’s Justice? ICC, the Gbagbos and the Mega-Trial" for African Arguments, by Giulia Piccolino
(seriously excellent overview of the set of trials set in political context)
"Investigations against pro-Ouattara camp to begin mid-2015, says ICC chief prosecutor" for The Interview, France 24
(the first time the ICC has explicitly addressed the criticisms of both the Ivorian opposition and human rights observers that the national and international justice mechanisms have been one-sided)
"Deja vu: And if the cocoa price dropped?" by John James on his blog Drogba's Country
(examination of the possible second round of CIV's "economic miracle" that could be based, once again, on high global cocoa prices; what could happen if prices plunge?)
Why yes, Morocco is beautiful. Why do you ask?
My friend and cohort-mate, Kelsey, has been conducting her own fieldwork in Morocco, and as Casablanca is a direct flight from Abidjan (and no travel visa needed), I spent a week with her, touring a bit of the country.
The photos above are from Chefchaouen, in the mountains south of Tangier. Many of the buildings in the media are painted blue, making it lovely and peaceful and cool. So lovely. Blue city, in the mountains – possible future writing retreat.
Between us, Kelsey and I spoke four languages, which was such an asset in Morocco, where the Moroccan version of Arabic is mixed with legacies of Spanish and French colonialism (and tourism), so we could communicate with just about anyone we came across.
We also visited Casablanca, where the Hassan II mosque (pictures below) is located, as well as Rabat and Tangier, taking the train and bus everywhere.
We also exercised our passport privilege by hopping on a boat to Spain, where we stayed in Granada for a few days, exploring the Arab/Moorish/Muslim influence on southern Spain and compiling a "best of" tapas restaurants in the city.
Travel and research notes
Fieldwork and travel in Côte d'Ivoire, Senegal, Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Mali, as well as Burkina Faso, Morocco, Tanzania, South Africa, and wherever else I end up. Plus occasional research-related thoughts.