Dr. David Crawford, professor of sociology, anthropology and international studies at Fairfield, gave a talk on Wednesday evening at the Fairfield University Downtown Bookstore discussing his newest book, “Nostalgia for the Present: Ethnography and Photography in a Moroccan Berber Village.”
“This is my third book” said Crawford, “Each book of mine has been very different, but all of them are about Morocco.”
Crawford’s first two books, “Moroccan Households in the World Economy: Labor and Inequality in a Berber Village” and “Encountering Morocco: Fieldwork and Cultural Understanding” were published in 2008 and 2013, respectively. All of Crawford’s work has received much praise, including a Julian Steward Award given to his first book.
Crawford has a deep love for Morocco that traces back to his youth. Right after finishing college, Crawford visited Morocco for the first time, falling in love with both the village and the people.
“I had such an amazing time that I desperately wanted to go back. I was given that chance when I went for my Ph.D. I had to go somewhere for research, so I went back to Morocco.”
“That’s why I think it is important to travel to unusual places when you’re young,” said Crawford.
Crawford opened by giving some background on himself and his work. He then discussed the profession of anthropology, and how, as an anthropologist, it is his job to understand different people.
“My point is that we need to engage cultural differences,” said Crawford.
Crawford then discussed his latest work in the field of anthropology, “Nostalgia for the Present.”
“Nostalgia for the Present” is a book of photographs and text, discussing the small Moroccan village Tagharghist. It is a relatively unknown land lost in time. It is a place where young girls carry straw on their backs and goats and sheep roam freely, where houses are still primarily made of mud; it is a place that most modern people would call the past. However, to these villagers, it is their present.
As citizens of a modern world, we look at the past and many times characterize it as a “simpler time,” which is where the title of the book comes from.
“Nostalgia for the present is a sense of loss for something that is still there in front of us,” he continued. “It complicates the way we understand these people.”
“Yes, this is a book about Berbers and Muslims and Moroccans. But it is a book about all of us,” he said Crawford.
Crawford concluded by reading the epilogue of the book and then that accepted questions from the audience.
Senior Kyle Wegner found himself much more educated on Moroccan culture after the presentation.
“It gave me a much richer sense of Moroccan lifestyle in poor villages,” Wegner commented.
“Nostalgia for the Present” can be found in the library or at the local bookstore.