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Tangier and the cultivation of desire in the print travel guides: latent and transgressive forms

Anas Sanoussi
Traduction de Université Bretagne Occidentale
Cet article est une traduction de :
Mises en désir de Tanger dans les guides touristiques imprimés : formes latentes et transgressives [fr]
Autre(s) traduction(s) de cet article :
La atracción de Tánger a través de las guías turísticas impresas: formas latentes y transgresivas [es]

Résumé

This article examines the different ways in which the city of Tangier is presented as a site of erotic experiences in the three large collections of print travel guides (Guide Vert, Guide Bleu and Lonely Planet) published in France after Moroccan independence (1956-2010). Heteroeroticism, which was deemed appropriate in the West’s promotional discourse on destinations with a colonial culture, no longer responds to the demands of a hypermodern touristic public in search of a more reflexive and creative experience. The figure of the artist passing through Tangier emerges as a central aspect of the touristic discourse in the contemporary travel guides, serving as a viaticum to the reader. In particular, the Lonely Planet, whose discourse championed homoeroticism from its very earliest French editions, allows us to understand the modalities of the cultivation of desire in relation to certain components of the touristic imagination of Tangier.

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Texte intégral

Introduction

1Tourism isa domain of choicefor the circulation of the erotic imaginations of places and erotic desire since it incites people to see and be seen, it produces a fantasy activity within the context of an individual’s travel plans and it results in relations between the visitor and the visited. In its attempt to make a travel destination desirable, touristic discourse can resort tothe use of symbols that associate touristic motivation with commercial sex (Kinnaird and Hall, 1994; Beaulieu et al., 2003).

2We define the eroticisation of aplace as a type of cultivation of desire in relation to (and through) a touristic imagination that responds to sexual desire. What therefore are the activators of anerotic desire that is specific to different places? Do they respond to the same dimorphisms (female/male) as human sexuality?

3Exoticism, a notion that has been largely deconstructed in the field of tourism studies, describes a process that leads to the cultivation of desire in relation to far-off places and persons (Staszak, 2008). It is based on such elements as the de (re)contextualisation of the characteristics and foreignness of other places and populations and leads to the construction of a condescending and fascinated gaze on alterity. The links perpetuated between exoticism and eroticism in the wake of colonialism have connected race with gender and placed the body of the other at the disposal of ‘white’ male desire. We will endeavour to show that eroticism as the cultivation of desire is able todispense with exoticism. Eroticism does not seek to mediatise a relationship where the dominator and dominated are predefined on the basis of race, class or gender. Rather, its aim is primarily to create desire between two sexualised entities. However, some psychoanalytical studies (Stoller, 1984) agree that hostility (that is, the desire to humiliate, hurt, cause pain) is one of the main constituents of erotic arousal.

  • 1 This and all subsequent quotations from French sources in this text have been translated into Engli (...)

4Crépault (2007) defined some laws of eroticism that can be easily transposed to touristic storytelling and discourses for an understanding of some of the processes implemented to activate erotic desire. Crépaultcited the need to simultaneously integrate new elements with scenario repetitions through rituals (for example, to reach the destination) as well asthe need for affective detachment through the presentation of the destination as an object of desire that has been discharged of its affective qualities, population and problems with a view to removing the tourist’s guilt and allowing them to experience the pleasure more easily. The most intense cultivations of desire are those that are the most transgressive, those that play with danger or run the risk of ethical drift. The touristic imagination is presented as an ‘intermediate area of experience’1 or ‘a symbolic third space’ (Amirou, 1995) in order to reduce the distance between the tourist and the place visited. In this context, the eroticisation of touristic locations should be integrated into this mediatisation, most notably through a compromise with exoticism. Howdoes the touristic imagination, through its capacity to go beyond the object represented, manage to dilute sometimes shameful and even unspeakable desires in other representations in order to maintain a destination’s appeal?

5To study the processes of and variability within the eroticisation of locations, we draw on the case of the city of Tangier and its touristic imagination such as it is expressed in contemporary print travel guides. Often compared to global Mediterranean cities like Naples and Alexandria (Dodi, 2010), which have fascinated and deeply moved writers and artists the world over, Tangier is the subject of a profusion of images resulting from these traveller accounts. Both during and after its international status, Tangier was indeed one of these sexual heterotopias (Berliner, 2010), where Western moralistic laws and customs were irrelevant and the repressed desires and practices of the Western coloniser were made welcome. Hence, the travelling artist figure has been a strong invariant in the touristic imagination of the city in post-independence print editions of the guides.

6The first part of this article focuses on gaining an understanding of the origins of the erotic rhetorical devices used in the contemporary touristic discourse of three travel guides published in French (Guide Bleu, Guide Vert and LonelyPlanet), dating from Tangier’s independence (1956) onwards. To grasp their ideological, aesthetic and political foundations, it was necessary to examine themfrom the perspective of the representations of Tangier contained in the fictional and poetic imaginations of the city. This intertextual approach consisted in comparing the touristic discourse with the narratives from the travel guides plus other forms of expression (artists’ practices through travel journals, artistic works) in order to take into account the transfer of values in operation between them.

7The diachronic approach adopted here hasrevealed significant homoerotic content, which was mobilised exceptionally and ephemerally (up to 2010) to cultivate desire in relation to Tangier in the first editions of the Lonely Planet on Morocco, published at the beginning of the 1990s. This explicitly expressed homoeroticism was not mentioned in the contemporary tourist guides analysed in this study (up to 2010) despite the survival of some furtive, emblematic twentieth-century homosexual imagination references, symbolised mainly by the Beat Generation writers who passed through Tangier.

  • 2 A concept invented by Brunet denoting all negative, marginal and informal spaces marked by isolatio (...)

8The second part of the article draws out the discursive processes that sexualised and homoeroticised Tangier in the first editions of the Lonely Planet in an attempt to reactivate the amenities ofthe homosexual destination dating from the end of its international status to the 1960s. While this destination’s life cycle was doomed to end at the same time as the colonial and literary project that had generated it, the Lonely Planet combined visibility/invisibility registers that were characteristic of an ‘antimonde’ space (Brunet, Ferraset Théry, 19922. Despite local and official constraints (sociocultural and legislative), thistravel guide exploited the situation of decline and isolation that the city found itself in to highlight its clandestine and illegal practices (including homosexuality and prostitution) to interested readers. As such, we also need to understand the economicand political realities that were limiting or fostering the cultivation of desire in relation to Tangier and which were positioning their nature.

9Two key phases can be identified in our corpus of the post-independence editions of the three travel guides, corresponding to the political and urban transformations that mark the touristic territory’s history. One is Tangier’s independence, which led to economic impoverishment and marginalisation. The second is the enthronement of King Mohammed VI, which marked a renewed interest in Tangier and its urban regeneration. We will review the part that Tangier’s development during the 2000s played in the disappearance of blatant homoeroticism from the discourse as it adapted to the changes in touristic demand for a more reflexive and creative experience.

1 - The erotic gallery of images of the city in the discourses of the contemporary print travel guides

Heteroeroticism and female sexualisation

  • 3 Delacroix’s work was to integrate Tangier into the geography of the East, which was the object of W (...)

10The touristic discourse in the print guides published post-independence (from 1960 onwards) is full of metaphors (white city, muse, object of desire, etc.) that personified Tangier as a sexual female. By repeating the city’s attributions, Tangier was assimilated to a muse and even to an object of desire, thus attracting artists at the end of the 19th century. The perennial references (from the very first post-independance editions) to Eugene Delacroix’s3 arrival in Tangier in 1832 (in a Maghreb that was still closed to the West) became the principal representation ofthe city’s traditional function to inspire. These references to Delacroix launched an ongoing ‘saga’ in the travel guides, recounting the story of the city that was the destination of great artists.

  • 4 This refers to the reductive, hierarchising gaze that underpinned the concept of ‘orientalism’, who (...)

11The female sexualisation of Tangier in the form of metaphors with erotic connotations thus borrowed from the poetic language of the famous artists that had passed through the city for more than two centuries. The images of the city that the artists produced were decontextualized as part of an exoticism that was specific to the touristic imagination of the promotional discourses. The aim was to attribute traits to the object of discovery that were limited to feminisation, sexualisation, passivity and westernisation (Baider et al., 2004)4. The allegories of ‘the white city’ (fig. 1) and ‘the pearl of the Strait’, for example, which feature heavily in the contemporary guides’ touristic discourses, are combined with representations relating to purity, virginity, sobriety and generosity in order to reference elements linked with possession and accessibility that are typical of the sexualisation of destinations (Pritchard and Morgan, 2000).

Figure 1.Photograph entitled ‘Tangier the “white city” at the beginning of the century, laid out like an amphitheatre around its bay’

Figure 1.Photograph entitled ‘Tangier the “white city” at the beginning of the century, laid out like an amphitheatre around its bay’

Guide Bleu Evasion, 2001

12The cultivation of desire in relation to a place is based on reducing it to its alterity and making it available to the tourist by offering it up to their desire for appropriation. In this respect, the touristic discourse heteroeroticises the relationship with the destination suggested to the tourist on the basis of a feeling of conquest, appropriation and even consumption, thus likening the destinationto a person (often female) or an object. This erotic approach is magnified by the denunciatory idea that assimilates tourism to prostitution (first mentioned as a third-world rhetorical figure), which has been identified as a research avenue worth exploring within the contexts of its relationships with patriarchy and imperialism (Graburn, p. 83 cited by Staszack, 2015).

  • 5 This is the title of a historical column in the Guide Vert. In the Guide Bleu (2012), the title is (...)

13The heteroeroticism of Tangier has its distant roots in its geostrategic situation (fig. 2) and its ability to fuel the appetites of the various occupations it has undergone during its history. In the travel guides, a column entitled ‘object of desire’5 acts as a reminder of the times the city has been forced to make itself available to its occupiers. Today, however, with the colonisation period in the past, the feat of sublimating sexual desire into artistic creativity is reserved for certain travellers only, namely those who manage to follow in the wake of the artists’ experience.

Figure 2. This image, which is highly prized by those involved in promoting national tourism, symbolises Tangier as the gateway to Africa.

Figure 2. This image, which is highly prized by those involved in promoting national tourism, symbolises Tangier as the gateway to Africa.

It shows the opening to the Cave of Hercules, which is shaped like the African continent, with the ocean (where the Atlantic meets the Mediterranean) cascading in at high tide.

Morocco Round Trip - MarokkoRundreise, 2011

Autoeroticism and nostalgia

14Paradoxically (depending on the postcolonial interpretation given to it), this heteroeroticism in the contemporary discourses (which manifested in the female personification of Tangier from the very first French editions of the travel guides and touristic brochures on the city) ended with the introduction of international status and territorial neutrality for Tangier in 1923. The element of possession (the city was shared between several Western powers) is conveyed in Prosper Ricard’s explicitly sexualised paraphrase in the 1930s Guides Bleus: ‘The city that belongs to everyone’. The almost ‘scientific’ presentation in the publications from 1930 to 1950 of a city that combined tradition and modernity is based on maps and a list of amenities inviting the tourist to visit the whole city, including those districts newly built by the colonisers.

15Heteroeroticism, particularly that mobilised through the artists and their poetic imaginations, was not to re-emerge until the post-independence editions. The ‘golden age’ (e.g. Guide Bleu, 2007) described the pivotal period in the city’s history (during its international status) and structured the space and time represented in the discourse. In short, it conferred authenticity on the locations and guided touristic practices. This was a ‘golden age’ when only the idyllic aspects of a bygone time and space were revealed. It was a period of prosperity, artistic creativity, cosmopolitanism, tolerance, freedom and partying.

16This temporally undefined past, which was punctuated with the artists that had passed through the city and marked by its international period, is referred to in a nostalgic tone, which grows with each edition. It manifests in a gradual increase in the number of references to artists and in the marking of locations (regardless of whether or not they had since closed or were no longer accessible) that were laden with the imagination of this past.

17Within the heteroeroticism context, the nostalgia is presented as a form of exoticism that cultivates desire in relation to the city’s former colonisation civilisation. However, this nostalgia, above all, demonstrates a frustration stemming from the fact that the erotic promises littering the contemporary discourse (conveyed by the many references to the artists) were being confronted with the everyday routines of the ‘real’, in other words those of a fast-developing city.

18The myth of Tangier, such as it was mobilised by the contemporary fantasy and touristic discourses, is made up of heterogenous forms of language (fictional, historical, biographical, etc.), which reveal the destination’s seductive powers and ways to access it as well as a variety of erotic preferences. The erotic experiences suggested to the reader are configured, first, through the values of attributions to the artists referenced by the guides (illustrated through a destination experienced and/or retranscribed by these artists) and, second, through the reader’s own personal sensibility and knowledge of the artists in question and their works. This process (which involved the tourist’s individual imagination through the use of poetic word borrowed from/associated with the famous artists to the detriment of any useful erudition) was common in the publishing world producing these travel guides in the 1990s (Rauch, 2007). It allowed the guides to either move beyond or renew exoticism and rebuild the concept of the cultural visit by offering alternatives to the monumental vision of the city.

  • 6 Reference to this artist was highlighted in the Guide Vert. Bowles’ death in 1999 ended the saga fi (...)

19At the end of the 1990s, we see new references to American artists beginning to emerge in the discourse of the travel guides on Tangier. The artist who received the most attention was Paul Bowles6, whose death in 1999 was marked by a text boxentitled ‘A chapter closes’ (Guide Vert Michelin, 1999). This space has been reserved ever since for short mentions of his life in Tangier, his role as a greeter to the literary city, his work, and his friendships and romantic relationships with the Moroccans, which led him to produce his artistic works. Bowles understandably became the symbolic resident of this ‘international Tangier’. He represented this other around which the cultivation of desire was constructed, the charismatic leader of the ‘authentic’ tourist experience. Although the imagined nostalgia was now fed into the tourism imagery for marketing purposes and while it contributed to perpetuating the colonialist and orientalist imaginations on developing countries (Echtner and Prasar, 2003), it pertains here to a de-exoticisation, since the other is a Western self (embodied by Bowles) who is valorised as the ideal to strive for. This approach involved deference rather than condescendence, revealing a hybrid (or cosmopolitan, according to the myth) identitythat went beyond the oppositions between the here and the elsewhere. Exoticism is almost emptied of all meaning here.

20Although they go beyond exoticism, the two eroticising processes presented above can also be easily applied to a destination with a colonial past. Heteroeroticism was readily expressed in the domination/submission relationships favoured by colonialism whereas autoeroticism is expressed in a relationship to self, where the other is integrated only after it has been appropriated. However, from the point of view of the colonial perspective adopted here, it should be noted that these eroticism approaches suggest a relationship that is too fusional for a discourse that is supposed to be addressed to the white Western male. Since this discourse is sanitised in advance, however, what other latent eroticisations does it conceal through its reference to the myth of Tangier and its artists? Are there other erotic stages capable of constructing a cultivation of desire within the framework of the touristic imagination?

The artists’ antifusional relationships with places: transgressive eroticisations of Tangier

  • 7 Crépault (2007) explained that Eros thrived, on the one hand, on hatred, suffering and destruction (...)

21The answer to these questions can be found in the genealogy of the images produced within the context of artistic creation to eroticise Tangier but which were not integrated as such into the touristic discourse. While the discourse in the contemporary travel guides gives the impression that the paradigmatic relationship (following in the footsteps of the artists) with the destination is quite fusional, or almost anerotic in the sexual sense of the word, the artists’ travel journals and their artistic output reveal that the fusional and antifusional7 relationships with the place and its inhabitants were often correlated. As Staszak (2003) showed for Gauguin, the artists’ geographic displacement was also a bodily experience, implying a sexual adventure that could lead to artistic creation. Pouillon (2008) described Delacroix and Matisse in Tangier as ‘caricatures of tourists’ (and even, in Delacroix’s case, as a ‘sex tourist’), explaining that their visits were limited to looking at the postcard landscapes and attending official receptions with no attempt to understand the lives of the indigenous Muslims. Before Eros could have been completely sacrificed in sublimation for the benefit of the travelling artists’ creative output, he would first have been nurtured on the relations of hostility and domination emanating from the precolonial tensions or from the hegemonic colonial context.

  • 8 Delacroix, Dumas and Mark Twain, who stayed in Tangier in 1832, 1846 and 1867, respectively, all re (...)
  • 9 Dumas relayed his first impressions on disembarking the Véloce in 1846: ‘This morning, you leave a (...)
  • 10 A number of travellers mobilised this stereotype on account of the population’s hostility towards t (...)
  • 11 Twain wrote in his travel narrative: ‘Here is a city that is full to bursting, enclosed by a massiv (...)
  • 12 ‘In the main street, which we have to cross, there are some Spanish boutiques, some French and Engl (...)
  • 13 In reference to Henri Amic’s work ‘Le Maroc. Hier et aujourd’hui. Deux voyages, 1920-1924’ (Paris, (...)

22Other travel narratives8 (most notably that of Dumas9) followed in the wake of Delacroix’s travel journal. They described the climate of hostility that prevailed during the artists’ stays and the inhospitality of a city that was so close to Europe (two hours from Gibraltar and Algeciras) and the gateway to a still mysterious Orient. The stereotype of a population made up of redoubtable or miserable Barbaric men10 and veiled, subjugated women and of a city and its beautiful, although difficult to access11, countryside fed (along side the orientalist paintings) the seeds of a discourse that was to serve the colonial propaganda. However, the presence of foreign consuls guaranteed security, support and shelter for visitors.The Jewish community in Tangier allowed painters access to female models and gave them a behind-the-scenes look at Moroccan culture and traditions (fig.3) (Arama, 2006). This particular cultivation of desire can be described as allo-eroticisation (as opposed to the autoeroticism described above) because the gratification of desire came from an external, foreign object and because it had to be preserved as such despite the urge to reveal it. The hostility was intense, and it guaranteed that the external object was preserved intact. In his travel narrative entitled ‘In Morocco’, Loti, who arrived in Tangier in 1889, was clearly already suffering from the tourist’s paradox (Urbain, 1991) when he reported a large tourist presence12. On his departure, he expressed his desire to hide this world away, which he was sorry to see open up: ‘Oh shadowy Maghreb, remain walled in, impenetrable to anything new for a long time to come. Turn your back on Europe and stay immobilised in the things of the past’ (In Morocco, 1890, cited by Peltre, 2003, p. 91). The appropriation of a European memory of the city marked by the illustrious painters that had passed through it began to emerge with the erasure of the characteristic features of the Moorish city by twentieth-century cosmopolitanism. In the French travellers’ writings13, the singularity of Tangier within Morocco lay in a pessimistic discourse that established that Tangier had lost its identity (Tatin-Gourier, Amahjour, 2008). Exoticism only regained its meaning in Tangier through the lens of nostalgia.

Figure 3.Jewish Wedding in Morocco, Eugène Delacroix (1798-1863)

Figure 3.Jewish Wedding in Morocco, Eugène Delacroix (1798-1863)

Photo RMN-Grand Palais (Musée du Louvre)/Jean-Gilles Berizzi

  • 14 We refer here to the work of Salardenne (1932), who travelled to Tangier in 1930 to report on the p (...)
  • 15 The Dictionnaire des Orientalistes Français gives the date (1913) that the company Lévy et Fils was (...)

23Later on, at the very start of Tangier’s international status, the accounts from tourists (fig.4) and journalists14 passing through the city reveal a high level of prostitution involving Moorish, Jewish and Muslim women as well as boys from Tangier, often housed in brothels. Postcards from the Lévy & Neurdein Réunis collection (considered to be the most important iconographic source on the Maghreb), which were published in the period 1913-193215, used photographs of these prostitutes (fig. 4 and 5) to illustrate the oriental women. The postcards also mention an over-representation of children (fig. 6), which implies an extension of the age range of the ‘young boys’ cited in the literature who had been integrated into the sex market at the time.

Figure 4. Postcardfeaturing a Jewish Moor

Figure 4. Postcardfeaturing a Jewish Moor

Postcardfeaturing a Jewish Moor, almost certainly a prostitute, with the tourist’s comment: ‘Just look at that pose, how bold she is’

Postcards dating (probably) from the 1930s, Lévy and Neurdein collection, Bibliothèque du Patrimoine de Paris)

Figure 5. Postcard featuring ‘a Moor at home’

Figure 5. Postcard featuring ‘a Moor at home’

Postcard featuring ‘a Moor at home’, almost certainly a Muslim prostitutein a brothel (It was forbidden for Muslims to pose as models)

Postcards dating (probably) from the 1930s, Lévy and NeurdeinRéunis collection, Bibliothèque du Patrimoine de Paris)

Figure 6. ‘Sunbatherson the beach in Tangier’ (‘Bain de lézards sur la plage de Tanger’)

Figure 6. ‘Sunbatherson the beach in Tangier’ (‘Bain de lézards sur la plage de Tanger’)

Postcards dating from the colonial period, Lévy and Neurdein Réunis collection, Bibliothèque du Patrimoine de Paris)

  • 16 In his letters to Allen Ginsberg, Burroughs (1990) related his experiences of paedophilia, his nigh (...)
  • 17 In The Dogs Bark, Capote writes: ‘Magnificent beaches. Extraordinary stretches of sand as soft as c (...)
  • 18 Burroughs William, Letters to Allen Ginsberg: 1953-1957, New Jersey, Full Court Press, 1982; Lapass (...)

24Up until at least the 1960s, Tangier was a sexual, and more specifically homosexual, tourism hotspot for nineteenth-century writers. With its international status, the city offered all the ingredients of a space in which writers could fuel their fantasies, create amoral, mystical, sexual or syntactic revolution (the most famous manifestation of which was the cutup technique that William Burroughs experimented with in his novel The Naked Lunch) and find inspiration (for example, through drugs or diverse and forbidden sexual practices16 or byindulging in a hedonistic lifestyle17and meeting eccentric figures). American literature, with Bowles, Gyson, Williams, Vidal, Capote, Sontag and Burroughs at its helm, was part of a collective movement that led to the emergence of the Beat Generation.This was a counter culture that flaunted its rejection of conventional, puritanical America. It became crystallised through a new form of travel that was part of a rite of avoidance (Amirou, 1995) in relation to the sites and cultures visited. Influential artistic works and biographical literature18 attest to the homoerotic and autoerotic potential of Tangier and to the ‘situational disinhibition’ (Eiser and Ford, 1995) produced there, whichpermitted sexual practices and excesses that were forbidden elsewhere, including the practicenow classed as paedophilia (Caraës, Fernandez, 2003).

  • 19 ‘Tangier is a very gossipy city, and all the members of the foreign colony inevitably know one anot (...)

25Homoeroticism contributed to providing the ‘heterotopic’ qualities of both the location and the literature produced there (Albert and Kober, 2013), that is, of the geographic and literary ‘other’ spaces, where gazes distanced from the world were shaped by a hegemonic setting in which transgressive practices and desires could be confessed (gambling, prostitution, freedom, homosexuality). This heterotopia was the expression of a utopia that had been created by the city’s residents and the travellers who, fleeing the world, found themselves in Tangier sharing hedonistic values and a search for freedom and looking to unburden themselves of the norms established by society. Autoeroticism provided this heterotopia with a poetic licence to combine the qualities of a utopia of escape and individual satisfaction with those of a revolutionary utopia. Hence, Tangier became a ‘sanctuary in which everyone is sheltered from all interference’19.

26We can deduce from this that the discourse in the contemporary print travel guides was sanitised of certain transgressive eroticisations because they were linked to embarrassing aspects of and taboos in the Tangier memory.The Burroughs example, however, is a reference that, although discreet in the most recent editions, represents a way of travelling. It carries latent values that the shrewd reader can decipher to feed his or her imagination. The Lonely Planet, which uses Burroughs as its main reference up until 2005 by establishing a parallel between its description of Tangier during this period (1995-2005) and Burroughs’fictional city of Interzone to help pave the way for a gay destination, seems to be an interesting case study for drawing out the elements of the cultivation of desire presented by homoeroticism and the key features of the touristic experience that it involves.

2 - The latent and transgressive meaning of homoeroticism in the cultivation of desire in relation to Tangier through the cycle of a gay destination in the discourse of the Lonely Planet travel guides (1995-2005)

27Adopting a different and more assertive approach than the Guides Bleus and Guides Verts, the first editions of the Lonely Planet in 1995 proposed a touristic discourse that suggested an off-the-beaten-track adventure, an extreme experience even, which was enhanced by the danger that lay in wait for the tourist. This element of danger, which came from the other (that is, the indigenous population), had a strong presence and took an active stance in the discourse.

  • 20 Article 489 of Morocco’s penal code criminalises homosexuality, or any sexual act between two men.

28Homoeroticism incorporates a high level of hostility (especially when it comes from the other), which leads to the hypersexualisation of a location. This process responds to the need, as a homosexual reader, to position oneself as an object of desire. From our postcolonial point of view, this type of discourse opens the door to the enclave of masochism and gives this touristic gaze that always presents itself as ‘male’a ‘female’ sexuality. This is one reason why we describe homoeroticism as transgressive.The other is that homosexual practices had to remain hidden and secret20 in keeping with Morocco’s Arab-Muslim culture and because Tangier was under the Makhzen and its legislation.

29The social invisibility of homosexuality manifested in an ephemeral and diffuse touristic geography of homoeroticism in Tangier. Nevertheless, the Lonely Planet, despite a prohibitive local context and at the risk of threatening its very existence, had to deploy visibility strategies for the reader in order to mark, or identify, the meeting places and forbidden homosexual prostitution practices promised in the discourse.

30Faced with having to establish this double transgression, both at the local sociocultural level and in relation to Western referents, the Lonely Planet’s touristic discourse had to fulfil an image production function through discursive and figurative descriptions. Hence the guide reconstructed the city space as an ‘antimonde’. Like the heterotopia of international status, the reconstruction of this type of space had to enter into the spatial strategies implemented to resist dominant powers, which also ensured regulation and social reproduction.

A gay destination revived

  • 21 This and all subsequent quotations from the French editions of the Lonely Planet have been back-tra (...)

31After independence, Tangier, which was still cut off from the main national trade routes, suffered the loss of its internationally oriented trade functions. The city was marginalised following strained political relations with the central power under Hassan II. Tangier’s isolation in relation to the rest of Morocco and its openness to foreign markets promoted an illegal economy, which grew significantly in the principal cities of the Tangier Peninsula. The Lonely Planet highlighted these clandestine activities, which included smuggling and a cannabis economy: ‘Thriving drug trafficking industry (which has seen the involvement of an increasing number of South American drug barons dealing in cocaine), also a rise in people trafficking, many coming from sub-Saharan Africa21 (Lonely Planet, 1995). In the very first French edition of the Lonely Planet (1995), this transgressive and politically subversive economic situation in Tangier was exoticised within the context of a political exceptionality that Tangier ultimately always benefited from: ‘Tangier is a unique city, not really Moroccan and not really from elsewhere. A city like nowhere else in the world’. The qualities of Tangier, which was perceived as a sanctuary (Boone, 1995), were brought in line with contemporary public taste in the ‘History’ column presented by the guide: ‘The legend of international celebrity continues. A haven for refugees, exiles, bankers and artists and a hotspot for homosexuals and paedophiles’ (Lonely Planet, pp. 95, 98). During Tangier’s international status, prohibitions had been flouted without incurring any excessive social or penal sanctions, and this tolerance with regard to non-compliance with the rules or the commonly accepted morality in Morocco continued in this unsupervised, cut-off, post-independent city. It was a space that had been abandoned to market forces, where the order of values had been disrupted, as modelled in the behaviours and practices of the city’s residents: ‘Money is the lifeblood of the city. From the shoeshiners to the rich and powerful, everyone is chasing it’ (Lonely Planet, Introduction, 1995).

32The presentation of distance from the moralistic world and the recourse to homosexual spatialities has but one aim, which is to localise a ‘sexscape’ (Brennman, 2004), where the colonial stereotypes (which the sex tourist needs to manage their experience) are ultimately reactivated. Unlike the dissenting power of the twentieth-century literary heterotopia, Tangier as an ‘antimonde’ becomes both a black hole of the black economy and a sexual outlet for a leisure society in which relations of cultural hegemony are perpetuated.

33Stereotypes linked to the indigenous population and places are highlighted through the use of metonymy from the very first French edition of the Lonely Planet. In the Introduction, Tangier is replaced by the ‘interzone’. This hyper-homo-sexualised city allows the discourse to reproduce similar situations and then to indicate the sites specific to homoerotic practices.

Gone are the days when William Burroughs was able to describe with such delight the constant stream of sleazy offers he had from little boys and youths around this small square. But the Petit Socco is still a lively place and a wonderful spot to sit and enjoy a mint tea while you watch the colourful crowds go by. And if you are disappointed not to findtheold Tangier of ill-repute, youwill still be able to get a feel for what it was like in days gone by. It is not uncommon for someone to whisper in your ear “a little something special, my friend”. Hence, one of the cheap pensions on the square, Le Fuentes, is a brothel’ (LonelyPlanet, 1995)

34The Petit Socco, a small square that is still as effervescent as it was during the ‘international Tangier’ era, is identified in the guide’s discourse as a location that is emblematic of young Moroccan male prostitution. Attributing a touristic practice proposed by the guide’s discourse (which is to sit at a table in the central café in the Petit Socco) to the practices of Burrough’scharacter introduces a soliciting scene prompted by a young indigenous male. Through its reference to the novel, the discourse absolves itself (as does the tourist) of any responsibility regarding the suggestion. The sex tourist is even invited to pursue the encounter right through to the deed since Le Fuentes, which ‘at the end of the 19th century, (…) was one of Tangier’s luxury hotelshas [now] become a brothel (Lonely Planet, 1995). These pensions, where the bedrooms are ‘like homeless shelters’ and‘as cramped as prison cells’ (Lonely Planet, 1995), are the most frequently mentioned places on the guide’s touristic map of the medina. The pension tourist is then invited to visit the hammams, which are ‘quite handy given the rarity of hot water in many of the pensions’ (Lonely Planet, 1995). This is yet another homosociability space par excellence promoting intimacy between the tourists and the indigenous population.

  • 22 This expression is used in reference to Burroughs’ Interzone, where the author describes the cultiv (...)

35Generally speaking, the indigenous population referred to in the discourse comprises constantly active men and young boys who are trying to establish a commercial relationship andare playing with ‘numbers’22: ‘Tangier harbours the cleverest swindlers and pickpockets in the country (…) you will be welcomed by a cohort of polyglot friends and guides. Expect to hear the most folkloric of stories’ (Lonely Planet, 1995).

The eulogy of the city’s disorder and decline: the latent meaning of homoeroticism in the cultivation of desire in relation toTangier

36In the very first editions of the French Lonely Planet published prior to the 2010s (before the enthronement of Mohammed VI and the announcement of the ‘soft spot’he had for Tangier), the discourse took outhe heterosexual referents, not to produce values linked to possession and accessibility (which are a less obvious choice to highlight in a post-independence Morocco) but to capitalise on values linked to insecurity and inhospitality. These first editions of the French Lonely Planet open with a warning to the tourist about the continuous harassment they will be subjected to: ‘The harassment from the polyglot touts soondrives tourists away. But after a few days, they mostly leave you in peace’ (Lonely Planet, 1995).

  • 23 When they are present, they are mundane dancers or prostitutes during their spare time. The tourist (...)

37The space thus presents heterotopic qualities that limit access to it and create a space that is conducive to male enclaves. The discourse in the guides published up until the 2000s excludes women (both the tourists and those indigenous to Tangier) from public and private places23. The reasons for this are the male pre-eminence in public places in Morocco and the lack of security:

The homosexual population is no longer as high as it was, but they can be found in certain bars, sometimes entertaining, in the summer. Women will not feel comfortable sunbathing here’ (Lonely Planet, 1998).

A location to visit and a place of fascination for many artists. A seedy, debauched city that has led some into degradation (Orton murdered by his companion after their second trip to Tangier on account of his “insatiable appetite for young boys”’) (Lonely Planet, 1995).

38The spatio-temporal setting outlined by the discourse in the Lonely Planet of a city in decline and abandoned by both sides (that is, by both the Moroccan state and the foreign residents, including the artists who have either left or gone missing) revives the qualities of a space that is subversive and dangerous but which is also falling into disuse and decline. Hence, the famous old periods and locations for partying and ostentatious display are described in the past tense as they have given way to sad, deserted places. The characters who have stayed on are ageing, just like the locations:

Walking down the old Rue de la Poste, it would take a good imagination to be able to picture the little pensions as the high-class hotels they once were’ (Lonely Planet, 1995)

The Grand  Hôtel Villa de France, frequented by Delacroix and Matisse, is now closed’ (LonelyPlanet, 2003)

‘Café de Paris, an ageing grande dame of the coffee society, to see the strange array of elegant cosmopolitan characters with their greying temples.’(Lonely Planet, 1998)  

39Despite Tangier’s central role in a global black economy and the growth that resulted from it, the city did not develop. It was merely a central hub for the flow of goods, and it suffered an urban lethargy once its black economy activities declined:

‘In the age of what William Burroughs called the Interzone, the city was at the centre of a whole range of unsavoury activities. Smugglers, money launderers, currency speculators, arms traffickers, prostitutes and pimps made up a large part of the Moroccan and foreign population. This is how Tangier prospered. But since it was reintegrated with the rest of Morocco, the city has lost many of its attractions’ (Lonely Planet, Introduction, 1995)

40From the colonial point of view, homoeroticism as an erotic preference can be interpreted in this discourse as a rejection of a defence system. The homosexual spatialities that go hand in hand with a male hypersexualisation of the location reveal an anxiety and malaise in a mythologised city that was changing. The sadness that accompanied the decline gave way to nostalgia in the discourses of the 2000s. Unable to access the record of decline to describe the evolving urban reality, the Guide Vert marked a heterochrony in the 2000s that froze the sites and landscapes in an outdated and abandoned state and the city’s inhabitants in a state of expectation.

41The sanitisation of the homoeroticism discourse that accompanied Tangier’s touristic development, which was managed by the central power in the 2000s, reveals a correlation between an imagination of the decline, disorder and urban decay, on the one hand, and homoeroticism as a cultivation of desire, on the other. From the 2000s onwards, with the city’s economic and touristic renewal, the discourse in the guides gradually sanitises the homoeroticism by suppressing any references to Tangier’s past that are linked first with paedophilia (in 2001) and then with homosexuality (in 2010). From the 2000s onwards, references to the figure of Burroughs, a key element in the homoeroticisation of the discourse on the city in the 1990s, is diluted with other references. The presentation of the city as the interzone and any comparators stops in 2005. The opening of the space up to women is expressed relatively with the upscale in security concretised in the introduction of a tourist squad, first mentioned in the 2007 edition:

‘Women on their own are often bothered after 10pm and should avoid the port area after dark. Men may be offered hashish by sinister-looking young men. In the event of any problems with a fake guide or any other individual, contact the tourist squad.’ (Lonely Planet, 2010)

42The implementation of security measures was part of an operation to drive the dropouts and touts out of Tangier and eradicate prostitution: ‘The vast majority of touts that have given Tangier a bad reputation have been driven out’ (Lonely Planet, 2010). Since 2010, the nature of the locations and the tourist facilities proposed by the guides definitively emphasises quality, comfort and hospitality. The tourist map for the medina shows a predominance of cultural sites, artisan shops, art galleries, restaurants run by foreign investors and guest houses and luxury hotels (Dar Nour, HôtelMamora, etc.). As a result, the city has a welcoming quality, which has been restored by the transport and accommodation infrastructures. The sites, characters and practices that once compromised the sleek image of a developing city have disappeared and been replaced by a cultural tourism gentrification:

‘Today the white city looks to the future with optimism. The community realised the potential that the city had after the arrival in 1999 of a new monarch with progressive ideas on trade and tourism. A port of ambitious dimensions and a new business district have been developed, and the airport has been restructured. Buildings have been renovated, beaches have been cleaned up, prostitution has left the streets and cultural activities are flourishing. Best of all, there are plenty of excellent hotels and restaurants’ (Lonely Planet, 2010)

Conclusion  

43The touristic discourse in the print guides makes use of a rich reserve of images and poetic representations to cultivate desire in relation to Tangier. The city has always aroused a yearning in artists and travellers and liberated eroticisms. The discourse is consolidated around this stereotyped image of the artist, which suggests repetitive scenarios of accessing and visiting the city where the traveller manages to merge with the destination. Hence, the erotic rhetorical devices used in the contemporary travel guides’ discourse are developed on the basis of famous artists’ accounts of their creative trips in Tangier in the 19th and 20th centuries.The artists as emblems give this cultivation of desire and particularly this eroticisation content all its richness and power. A whole range of erotic preferences emerges when we return to the sources behind the construction of these figures, when we decipher their original meaning and when we examine the avenues they open up for readers in coproducing their destination imagination.

44The discourse’s eroticisation of locations represents a type of cultivation of desire that constructs a discourse on alterity. It constructs attractiveness in the contemporary promotional discourses while moving beyond the hierarchies identified by gender and postcolonial studies. Indeed, eroticisation is able todisperse with class and race relations, retaining only gender-related differences. Nevertheless, eroticisation can also lead toethical excesses of the reduction and availability of the other that are much more extreme than would be the case with exoticism.

45The eroticisation of a place can demonstrate a group’s need at a particular time in its history to forcibly claim ownership of a new territory, to cultivate its own desire and to ultimately construct a new social project. In the past, literature has been a dominant ideological force that has imposed transgressive eroticisations and transformed Tangier into a receptacle of repressed desires from a group of Western artists. This homoeroticism was especially perpetuated in the touristic discourse of the Lonely Planet through the valorisation of a subversive spatiality because it opposed the neoliberal injunction to cities to develop, open up, sort themselves out, makes themselves visible and integrate with the rest of the world. Later, in the contemporary discourses and in the sanitisation of the discourse following an increase in regulations and the domestication of the touristic space, homoeroticism was halted and replaced by autoeroticism, which places the onus back on the reader’s imaginational capacity to form their own eroticisations and even to create new ones.In a globalised world where asperities tend to disappear, the erotic desire in contemporary discourses autoregulates by responding more to ludic and cultural activities than to sexual or psychoaffective needs.

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Notes

1 This and all subsequent quotations from French sources in this text have been translated into English.

2 A concept invented by Brunet denoting all negative, marginal and informal spaces marked by isolation and dissimulation.

3 Delacroix’s work was to integrate Tangier into the geography of the East, which was the object of Western fantasy. It motivated a number of artists, such as Alexandre Dumas and Henri Matisse, to travel to Tangier. Delacroix’s travel journal even allowed people to retrace his steps and learn the etiquette of touristic activity in Tangier.

4 This refers to the reductive, hierarchising gaze that underpinned the concept of ‘orientalism’, whose very often customary construction in the touristic discourse was condemned by Saïd (1978).

5 This is the title of a historical column in the Guide Vert. In the Guide Bleu (2012), the title is ‘jouet des convoitises arabe’ (a plaything of Arabian desires). The most famous historical anecdote is that Tangier was presented as a dowry by Catherine of Braganza to Charles II on their marriage in 1661. This is one example of the legends (including those from Greek mythology) that reinforce the city-as-object metaphor.

6 Reference to this artist was highlighted in the Guide Vert. Bowles’ death in 1999 ended the saga first introduced in the Guide Vert (published that same year) with a text box entitled ‘A Chapter Closes’. Since the 2000s, the Lonely Planet and the Guide Bleu have also included a text box dedicated to Bowles’ life and activities in Tangier.

7 Crépault (2007) explained that Eros thrived, on the one hand, on hatred, suffering and destruction and, on the other, on feelings of love and tenderness. He believed that fusional fantasies circulated more freely in the female than the male imagination, which found them threatening. The male antifusional imaginations could, however, conceal fusional fantasies (especially in their orgasmic phase).

8 Delacroix, Dumas and Mark Twain, who stayed in Tangier in 1832, 1846 and 1867, respectively, all reported the need for the visitor to be escorted in the city and to be welcomed by an intermediary who could introduce them to local daily life.

9 Dumas relayed his first impressions on disembarking the Véloce in 1846: ‘This morning, you leave a friendly country, and this evening, you arrive in a hostile one. These fires that you see have been lit by a race that is completely the opposite of your own, the mortal enemy of your person, which has done it no wrong and which has no intention of ever doing so. The cries, finally, are those of ferocious animals, unknown in the land you have come from and which, just like the lion in the Scripture, will be looking for someone to devour. Set foot on this land and if you escape the animals, you will not escape the men. Why? Because this land is separated by a body of water that is seven leagues from the next land, because it is close to one quarter of a degree from the equator and finally because it is called Africa and not Spain, Italy, Greece or Sicily’ (p. 327).

10 A number of travellers mobilised this stereotype on account of the population’s hostility towards them, including Charles Didier (1844), Edmondo De Amicis (1876), Henri de la Martinière (1887).

11 Twain wrote in his travel narrative: ‘Here is a city that is full to bursting, enclosed by a massive stone wall that is more than a thousand years old.’

12 ‘In the main street, which we have to cross, there are some Spanish boutiques, some French and English posters, and mixed in with the crowd of burnous are alas! some gentlemen in safari hats and young lady travellers with their sunkissed cheeks. But it makes no difference. Tangier is still very Arab, even in its commercial districts’ (Loti, 2000 (1890), p. 24).

13 In reference to Henri Amic’s work ‘Le Maroc. Hier et aujourd’hui. Deux voyages, 1920-1924’ (Paris, Calman-Lévy, 1925).

14 We refer here to the work of Salardenne (1932), who travelled to Tangier in 1930 to report on the prostitutes in what he called the ‘Moroccan Babylon’. He described the Jewish prostitutes who would ‘solicit’ bare-breasted in the streets of Tangier. A Lévy and Neurdein postcard (fig. 4) sent by a tourist in the 1930s shows a similar ‘Jewish Moor’prostitute.

15 The Dictionnaire des Orientalistes Français gives the date (1913) that the company Lévy et Fils was bought by Emile Crété, who had also taken over Neurdein. The amalgamation was called Lévy & Neurdein Réunis, which subsequently became the Compagnie des Arts Photomécaniques in 1932.

16 In his letters to Allen Ginsberg, Burroughs (1990) related his experiences of paedophilia, his nights in seedy bars, his decline into the world of drugs and his journey to the depths of hell.

17 In The Dogs Bark, Capote writes: ‘Magnificent beaches. Extraordinary stretches of sand as soft as caster sugar, and big breakers. And – if you like this sort of thing – the nightlife, while neither particularly innocent nor especially varied, goes on from dusk till dawn. Which, when you consider that the majority of people take a siesta that lasts the whole afternoon and that very few of them dine before ten or eleven at night, is not too abnormal. (…) It is quite alarming how many travellers have disembarked here just for a short stay and then settled, and the years have just slipped by. Because Tangier is a harbour. It wraps around you. It is a place sheltered from time. The days slide off you without you even noticing them, like splashes of foam from a waterfall’ (Back-translated from the French [1977, p. 151-152]). He subsequently told the story of the party on Sidi Kacem beach, which lasted until dawn and during which he (and his companions) slept on the beach.

18 Burroughs William, Letters to Allen Ginsberg: 1953-1957, New Jersey, Full Court Press, 1982; Lapassade Georges, Le bordel Andalou, Paris, L’Herne, 1971; Barthes Roland, Incidents, Berkeley, University of California Press, 1992; Barthes, New Critical Essays; Capote Truman, Answered Prayers, London, Hamish Hamilton, 1986; Paul Morand, Hecate and her Dogs, London, Pushkin, 2009.

19 ‘Tangier is a very gossipy city, and all the members of the foreign colony inevitably know one another. But that’s it. Neither the laws nor public opinion threaten individual freedom… Tangier is sanctuary in which everyone is sheltered from all interference’ (Back-translated from the French) (Letters to Allen Ginsberg: 1953-1957, William Burroughs, New Jersey, Full Court Press, 1982).

20 Article 489 of Morocco’s penal code criminalises homosexuality, or any sexual act between two men.

21 This and all subsequent quotations from the French editions of the Lonely Planet have been back-translated from the French.

22 This expression is used in reference to Burroughs’ Interzone, where the author describes the cultivation of desire (described as numbers) in which the Tangier (Interzone) inhabitants operate to make contact with the visitors and get some money off them.

23 When they are present, they are mundane dancers or prostitutes during their spare time. The tourists passing through Tangier are famous artists who are identified sexually (‘homosexual artists’).

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Table des illustrations

Titre Figure 1.Photograph entitled ‘Tangier the “white city” at the beginning of the century, laid out like an amphitheatre around its bay’
Crédits Guide Bleu Evasion, 2001
URL http://journals.openedition.org/viatourism/docannexe/image/1696/img-1.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 8,0M
Titre Figure 2. This image, which is highly prized by those involved in promoting national tourism, symbolises Tangier as the gateway to Africa.
Légende It shows the opening to the Cave of Hercules, which is shaped like the African continent, with the ocean (where the Atlantic meets the Mediterranean) cascading in at high tide.
Crédits Morocco Round Trip - MarokkoRundreise, 2011
URL http://journals.openedition.org/viatourism/docannexe/image/1696/img-2.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 212k
Titre Figure 3.Jewish Wedding in Morocco, Eugène Delacroix (1798-1863)
Crédits Photo RMN-Grand Palais (Musée du Louvre)/Jean-Gilles Berizzi
URL http://journals.openedition.org/viatourism/docannexe/image/1696/img-3.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 656k
Titre Figure 4. Postcardfeaturing a Jewish Moor
Légende Postcardfeaturing a Jewish Moor, almost certainly a prostitute, with the tourist’s comment: ‘Just look at that pose, how bold she is’
Crédits Postcards dating (probably) from the 1930s, Lévy and Neurdein collection, Bibliothèque du Patrimoine de Paris)
URL http://journals.openedition.org/viatourism/docannexe/image/1696/img-4.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 168k
Titre Figure 5. Postcard featuring ‘a Moor at home’
Légende Postcard featuring ‘a Moor at home’, almost certainly a Muslim prostitutein a brothel (It was forbidden for Muslims to pose as models)
URL http://journals.openedition.org/viatourism/docannexe/image/1696/img-5.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 212k
Titre Figure 6. ‘Sunbatherson the beach in Tangier’ (‘Bain de lézards sur la plage de Tanger’)
Crédits Postcards dating from the colonial period, Lévy and Neurdein Réunis collection, Bibliothèque du Patrimoine de Paris)
URL http://journals.openedition.org/viatourism/docannexe/image/1696/img-6.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 179k
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Référence électronique

Anas Sanoussi, « Tangier and the cultivation of desire in the print travel guides: latent and transgressive forms », Via [En ligne], 11-12 | 2017, mis en ligne le 14 mai 2018, consulté le 16 décembre 2018. URL : http://journals.openedition.org/viatourism/1696 ; DOI : 10.4000/viatourism.1696

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Auteur

Anas Sanoussi

PhD in geography, EIREST, Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne

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Traducteur

Université Bretagne Occidentale

http://www.univ-brest.fr/btu

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Via Tourism Review est mis à disposition selon les termes de la Licence Creative Commons Attribution - Pas d'Utilisation Commerciale - Pas de Modification 4.0 International.

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