Morocco: Material Culture

In January, I will be beginning my second chosen Field module which will begin with a trip to Marrakech, Morocco. When choosing my Field modules, I was eager to go on a field trip in order to gain knowledge of cultures different to my own and to experience a new place. I feel that this would inspire me in my subject work and enhance my work as a designer. Before I embark upon the journey to Morocco on 24th January, I have to consider a few questions. This will help me to record what has changed in my views and opinions when I return from the trip.

What is material culture?

According to the internet, material culture is the physical evidence of a culture in the objects and architecture they make, or have made. I believe this to be true, material culture being formed of the material things which make up how we define ourselves within our culture. It addresses the relationship between people and the things that they own. Taken from Wikipedia: “Anything from buildings and architectural elements to books, jewelry, or toothbrushes can be considered material culture.”

What are Moroccan cultural values?

I have little knowledge of Moroccan cultural values at this point. I know that Morocco gains a lot of money from tourism, and so tourists are welcomed and looked after. Tourism often makes cultural values of the country amplify, but soften, so that tourists can join in without being frowned upon for doing anything incorrectly (if that makes sense). I don’t know whether this is the case for Morocco, or whether it has always been so vibrant and beautiful. From photographs, I know that Marrakech is a beautiful place and from its nickname ‘The Pink City’, I know I will experience a profusion of colour and texture, an experience for all the senses. Before our journey to Morocco, I will conduct in depth research into the cultural values, though I wanted to record my (lack of) knowledge to compare with what I learn in Marrakech when we return.

What are your own material values?

I have had to turn to the internet in order to explore the ideas of material culture and values, as they are terms I have not really come across before. Google suggests material values refer to people’s daily environmental necessities, possibly contradicting and contrasting to spiritual values. I have always been someone who believes that material things are far less important in life than spiritual and personal happiness, though as I get older, I feel this changing. In the material world we live in, driven by money and consumerism, you have to play the game to survive, and to survive you need a certain level of money and materiality. I also feel my life revolving far more around money and materiality, or perhaps, as a student my lack of it. Whilst living at home and considering my future, it was easy to say happiness was the most important thing, speaking on my iPhone to my boyfriend, using wifi, in electrically lit bedroom, made toasty and warm by a new boiler before shutting my double glazed windows, drawing my curtains and tucking into my freshly made and reasonably sized bed. I’m not boasting, but I am very aware of how privileged and lucky I am. My incredibly hardworking parents have always ensured my siblings and I have had what we needed and more, never worrying about money. In this situation, it is painfully easy to believe that happiness is all you need in life, though I don’t believe this to be completely true. Of course, happiness is essential in life, but notice how it is always those with exactly what they need, and very often billionaire celebrities who say this. People who have the money and the material things and just need the happiness to complete the ‘perfect life’ set.

So, having said all of this, I do have material values, for sure. I’m just still trying to work them out. I would love to say material things aren’t important, though, as I have said, they unfortunately are and are essential to just simply get by in life. Those who have nothing are treated as nothing, proving that in this material society we are only as good as what we have. I hope that by travelling to Morocco and experiencing all that it has to offer in an immersive manner for eight days, I can experience a culture that is different to the one that is all I know, detached from the things that have become so central in British and Western culture.












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