Folktales of the Middle Atlas

with Yelins Mahtat

hosted by Graham Cornwell

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Moroccan folk literature has drawn the attention of researchers for over a century, beginning with the earliest French colonial ethnographers' exhaustive studies of Moroccan dialects through recordings of poems, folktales, and proverbs. The influence of these stories can also be found in the work of some of Morocco's most internationally acclaimed authors such as Mohammed Mrabet. On this podcast, Yelins Mahtat recounts a folktale from the region of Oulmès in the present-day province of Khemisset. Afterwards, Yelins takes us into the process of collecting and translating Amazigh folktales from the foothills of the Middle Atlas Mountains of Morocco. His research records folktales from storytellers in his family and from the villages near where he grew up. We discuss the politics of authorship and performance as well as the utility of folktales for understanding social and cultural dynamics of the Middle Atlas (cross-listed from tajine).

Yelins Mahtat is a doctoral candidate in linguistics at Leiden University in the Netherlands.

Graham H. Cornwell is a PhD Candidate in History at Georgetown University. His dissertation is entitled "Sweetening the Pot: A History of Tea and Taste in Morocco, 1856-1960.

Episode No. 209 (tajine No. 10)
Release date: 13 November 2015
Recording location: Nederlands Instituut in Marokko, Rabat
Editing and production by Chris Gratien
Bibliography courtesy of Yelins Mahtat
Musical excerpts from Brahim Fribgane live Live at WFMU's Transpacific Sound Paradise
Image via wikimedia


Akouaou, Ahmed. "Poésie orale berbère: statut, formes et fonctions." Revue de l'Occident musulman et de la Méditerranée 44.1 (1987): 69-78.

Merolla, D. "Intersections: Amazigh (Berber) Literary Space." (2014): 26.

Roux, Arsène. "Enigmes et proverbes en berbère-tachelhit." Etudes et documents berbères 12 (1995): 183-197.

Savignac, Pierre. Contes berbères de Kabylie. Presses de l'Université du Québec, 1978.

Stroomer, Harry. Tashelhiyt Berber Folktales from Tazerwalt (South Morocco): A Linguistic Reanalysis of Hans Stumme's Tazerwelt Texts with an English Translation. Rüdiger Köppe Verlag, 2002.


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