Faculty Sponsor

Luis Ramos


Arts and Sciences



Presentation Type

Oral Presentation

Symposium Date

Spring 5-3-2018


This paper examines French colonization in Morocco (1912-1956) and the formation of Moroccan national identity. After gaining independence in 1956, the Moroccan government implemented a language policy that aimed to reconstruct Arab-Moroccan national identity by only allowing standard Arabic in public education. As a legacy of the French protectorate, French became the language of aristocrats and upper classes. Currently, the linguistic split between Arabic and French makes students unemployable and illiterate because schools are not adequately preparing them for Morocco's workforce. French language fluency is required in political, economic, and academic sectors. While most scholars focus on contemporary debates, my paper revisits French imperialism to understand the relationship between the debate over language and questions of national identity. I argue that French colonization shaped Moroccan identity through language. In particular, I examine how the French protectorate treaty transformed Morocco's national identity by introducing French language to Morocco's educational system. In the end, this research better explains the Francophone origins of Morocco and the effects of historical western colonization on an Arabian-Muslim country.

Biographical Information about Author(s)

Jewan Attallah is a senior triple major in History, French, and International Economics and Cultural Affairs from Valparaiso, Indiana. This research belonged to the History Senior Seminar topic empires and imperialism. During her semester abroad in France, a simple conversation with a Moroccan university student about the French and Arabic languages in North Africa inspired Jewan to study the role of the French language in Arab countries and the history of French colonies in Northern Africa for her senior history thesis. She began learning the French language as a way to better understand her Middle Eastern cultural origins. This research project helped her see the effects of Western influences on Arabian countries and culture.