In 1777, the ‘Alawi Sultan of Morocco, Mohammad III, recognized the newly independent United States of America, making Morocco the first foreign country to do so. In 1821, his great nephew, Moulay Souleyman, gifted a house in the medina of Tangier to the U.S. to serve as its consular building. Today, the Tangier American Legation is the only U.S. National Historic Site located outside of the United States.
The history of U.S.-Morocco relations is one of friendship, curiosity, and fascination. Yet in the words of Karim Bejjit, “What is more intriguing is the remarkable longevity of these relations despite the lack of extensive commercial and political interests between the two nations that could justify such enduring mutual esteem.” The Moroccan American Studies Initiative captures the rich history of relations between the two countries across a range of fields: art, music, literature, diplomacy, and security. Drawing on the expertise of Moroccan and American scholars, MASI is an open-access resource for students, instructors, and the general public who are interested in Morocco and the United States. The project explores what has drawn Americans to Morocco and Moroccans to the U.S., what has fascinated one with the other, and where they have found common interests.
MASI is housed at the Institute for Middle East Studies (IMES) at The George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs. IMES is a hub for the study of the Middle East and North Africa in the nation’s capital. Just blocks from the White House and State Department, it brings together leading scholars from a range of disciplines, undergraduate and graduate students, and policymakers and practitioners in the study of the region in all its diversity. In 2022, IMES was awarded a Department of Education Title VI National Resource Center on the Middle East and it is also home to the Project on Middle East Political Science.
Graham H. Cornwell is the Director of the Moroccan American Studies Initiative. He is Assistant Dean for Research at the Elliott School of International Affairs. He is a historian of North Africa and is working on a book manuscript tentatively entitled, “A Social Life of Tea and Sugar in Morocco, 1850-1960.” He holds a Ph.D. in History from Georgetown University, an M.A. in Middle East Studies from the George Washington University, and a B.A. in American Studies from Carleton College. His scholarly work has been published in the Journal of North African Studies, Civil War History, Social and Cultural Geography, and Global Environment, and his travel writing has appeared in the Washington Post, Al Jazeera, Smithsonian Magazine, and Roads & Kingdoms.
Amanda Brauchler is Project Assistant for MASI. She is currently completing her B.S. in International Affairs and Economics at the Elliott School of International Affairs. As part of the Global Bachelor's Program, she will complete research and three semesters of her degree abroad; in Singapore, Morocco, and UAE.
MASI is made possible with the generous support of the Tangier American Legation Institute for Moroccan Studies and the U.S. Embassy-Rabat.