Home Institution

University of Notre Dame

Publication Date

Spring 2022

Program Name

Morocco: Multiculturalism and Human Rights


Many philosophers and thinkers have considered the idea of community and what makes it strong, beneficial, and enduring. The Ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle is no exception. Aristotle wrote thoroughly on the nature of the ideal community, which he observed in Greek city-states. Called a “polis”, this ideal community, according to Aristotle, is one that provides for its residents to live a good life above all else. In doing so, it usually is small enough that all its residents share a similar lived experience while being big enough to be self-sufficient. While Aristotle wrote on this subject over 2000 years ago, his teachings on community are still relevant today.

In this paper, I examine the social, economic, and physical construct of Moroccan medinas through secondary research, primary interviews, and observational research in the medina of Rabat. Medinas are the old walled cities found across North Africa. They consist of weaving streets, interconnecting alleyways, countless shops and small restaurants, and historical buildings such as mosques. While medinas have been around for hundreds of years, modern cities have sprawled around them, and the modern medina is an outpost of preserved history and culture surrounded by modernization. Inside the walls, however, remains the strong communities formed by the proximity of living quarters and similar lived experiences. I begin by examining Aristotle’s teachings before bringing up the Arab philosopher Al-Farabi, and then shifting to discussing the history and modern context of the medina. Then, I examine and synthesize the findings from my interviews to paint of a picture of the modern culture of the medina and analyze it in the context of the Aristotelian theory discussed earlier. By the end, I present a comprehensive picture of life in the modern medina and examine it through the lens of the Aristotelian idea of the polis.


African Studies | Ancient Philosophy | Civic and Community Engagement | Comparative Philosophy | Islamic Studies | Political History | Urban Studies and Planning


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