Michael A. Toler has been the Archnet Content Manager since September 2012. He also served as Interim Program Head of the Aga Khan Documentation Center at MIT (AKDC@MIT) from July 2018 to April 2020.
Michael has been involved in the digital humanities since the mid-1990s. From 2001-2010 he served as the Program Director for the Al Musharaka Initiative of the National Institute for Technology and Liberal Education. Michael was responsible for the development of content for the Arab Culture and Civilization Online Resource, and for coordinating inter-institutional, collaborative endeavors of faculty, librarians, and technologists using technology to enhance teaching and research on topics relating to Islam, the Middle East, and North Africa. Michael has contributed more than 3,500 images to Archnet, and creates most of the help videos and user guides. He is particularly proud of collaborations with the Tangier American Legation Institute for Moroccan Studies (TALIM) and other institutions, including Wellesley College and the American Folklife Center of the Library of Congress to bring online the glass negatives from TALIM's collection showing Tangier, Morocco, Algeria, Spain, and Frace in the period from roughly 1890 to 1930, and the nearly 70 hours of Moroccan music recorded in 1959 by Paul Bowles.
Michael received a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature with a Certificate in Translation Studies from Binghamton University (SUNY), after teaching in Morocco at L'Ecole Supérieure Roi Fahd de Traduction and Al Akhawayn University in Morocco. He also holds an MA and BA in English from New York University and Virginia Commonwealth University, respectively. He has published and lectured extensively on digital pedagogy and scholarship, as well as the literature, history, cinema, music, and cyberspace of the Maghreb, and the Middle East more widely.
Michael is Secretary of the Tangier American Legation Institute for Moroccan Studies (TALIM), and serves on the board or advisory groups of numerous academic societies and cultural institutions.
“In El Baz Ouchen, a folk baliad about a jackal, Rais Ahmed was at his most engaging. He had arranged his men on a rug under a tamarisk tree; at one point he clapped his hands for tea to be brought for them, and at that point he announced his intention of singing this particular piece. When it was played back to him, he had a fit of laughter which so affected him that he fell over backwards and had to be helped back into a sitting position by the other musicians. The entire courtyard of soldiers also found it highly amusing. No one volunteered, however, to translate the Chleuh* text into Arabic for us.
“El Maya dial Chtah is a traditional dance number, indistinguishable from those which can be heard in the Djemâa el Fna of Marrakech late in the afternoon when the troupes of Chleuh boys assemble and put on their daily show of dance and song.
* Or more correctly: Tachelhit
Bowles, Paul F. "Tiznit." in Folk, Popular, and Art Music of Morocco. The Paul Bowles Moroccan Music Collection. Washington, DC: American Folklife Center, Library of Congress, 1959-1962.
The Paul Bowles Moroccan Music Collection (AFC 1960/001), American Folklife Center, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C., Courtesy of the Paul Bowles Estate and Irene Hermann / Tangier American Legation Institute for Moroccan Studies.