It’s the end of a new day.
I went to the Old Medina today and went into just about every jewelry shop there, but I didn’t find anything I wanted. I realized that I may have gone in wanting to get something modern in maybe silver or gold, but I kept getting drawn to the antiques and the beaded necklaces and bracelets that weren’t exactly valuable in a “precious metal” sense of the word.
I feel a sense of conflict because I’m in a really modern, liberal country and city, but I’m getting drawn to these really old, historically and culturally relevant pieces. This is cultural appropriation, no?
But here in Morocco, I’m in context. Anything I buy here helps support the income of a local artisan, and I’m actually in a place where, if I wear it, I’m not infringing on the local culture because I’m in the place where it came from, where it makes sense to dress this way.
But it’s not my culture. So while I’m here, it’s assimilation. But I am still a tourist, so no matter what, when I leave, it’s still appropriation, right? And there’s also a whole other question of respect. If I know exactly which Amazigh tribe I’d be buying from, and I am aware that the jewelry isn’t ceremonial or anything that would infringe on someone’s religion or something like that, is it still cultural appropriation?
And to somebody reading this, they may have the following reactions if I buy traditional Amazigh jewelry:
And you would totally within your right to do that and I support you in your decision.
And I would like to retain my right to like shiny, pretty jewelry that is purely cosmetic and not traditionally necessary for ceremonies or taboo for me to wear. So I see a way going forward in which it is okay for me to buy and own such things. But I want to make sure that I am responsible about it. I don’t want to just buy anything because it’s pretty if it’s coming from a specific milieu.
You know what this means?
I’m gonna look up some info about Amazigh jewelry and get back to this.
So, in the meantime, there’s another side to this, which is continuity at home.
Why am I drawn to the old antique jewelry here and not at home in the States? It’s amazing the things we don’t realize that we take for granted.
Morocco has a rich history, and it’s reminding me that when I’m back in the US, I never even think about continuity. I never really think about the material history of things like jewelry. I think about the history of lots of other things, but not the things I wear everyday.
When I go back home I want to change that.