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Department of Anthropology and Sociology

Ms Ms Cristiana Strava

BA (Hons) Harvard, MARes (Distinction) SOAS


Cristiana Strava
Ms Ms Cristiana Strava
Email address:
Thesis title:
At Home with Modernity: Exploring Place-making on the Margins of Casablanca.
Year of Study:
Internal Supervisors


Anthropology of urban space and architecture, post-colonialism, material culture, phenomenology, anthropology of the state.

PhD Research

This project explores the everyday lives and struggles of those living in Hay Mohammadi, a marginalized and criminalized neighborhood in Casablanca. Built on the gaping holes of a colonial era quarry, Hay Mohammadi, formerly Carriere Centrale, has become a mythical neighborhood in the history of Morocco.  Known for North Africa’s oldest and largest slum still in existence today, Hay Mohammadi served as a laboratory for experimentation with social housing at the height of the modernist movement. Sixty years later these visionary projects stand as monuments to ruin and decay, victims of a toxic blend of political and economic circumstances. Home to a dynamic labor union scene that played a crucial role in the anti-colonial struggle, the neighborhood fell into disfavor during the reign of King Hassan II whose response to protest and contestation was machine gun fire and the creation of an infamous torture prison in the neighborhood. While an official reconciliation process is underway, everyday lives continue to be touched by the more banal wounds of poverty, pollution and decrepit living spaces. My dissertation suggests that as industry and buildings fell into oblivion, inhabitants and their families were also ruined by factory accidents, cancer, asthma, and unsanitary living conditions, which they see as a reversal of a once promising modernity. Based on fifteen months of fieldwork that combine a variety of sensorial and multi-media methodologies, this project will present an experiential account of how everyday lives and the spaces in which they unfold are enmeshed in an intimate web of historical, material and sensorial aspects which exist in tension with current political and heritage efforts centered on the neighborhood.

PhD Publications

  •  2013. "L'appropriation de la modernite a Hay Mohammadi," in Architecture du Maroc, July-August (56), Archimedia: Casablanca.

PhD Conferences

  • Strava, Cristiana (2013): "From “Trame” to Tram: Casablanca and the (Re)ordering of Marginality," International RC21 Conference, Berlin, 29-31st August.

  • Strava, Cristiana (2014): "Ana al-hay: living with the ruins of modernity on the margins of Casablanca," 14th Annual Anthropology and Sociology Association: Decennial Conference, Edinburgh 19-22nd June.


  • Associate Researcher, Centre Jacques Berque, Rabat 2013-2014
  • Associate Researcher, Centre Marocain des Sciences Sociales, Hassan II University, Casablanca 2013 – 2014