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.
"The Djebala are the inhabitants of the extreme northwestern corner of Morocco; their country extends roughly from a few miles east of Alcazarquivir (El Ksar el Kebir) all the way across to the Mediterranean shore at Rio Martín and from the Fahs country behind Tangier to the mountains around Xauen. They are slightly Arabized Berbers, speak Moghrebi Arabic. One indication of their Arabization is the fact that it is necessary to indicate the instrumentation of each separate number, whereas in Berber tribal music any variation is an exception.
Here each piece has its traditional ‘orchestration’, to which the performers adhere rigidly, insisting that any change is impossible. Thus in number 1 we have a combination which, although there are thirteen numbers in all, is not duplicated again; indeed, save for the rhaita solos, each one of the thirteen selections has a different instrumental and vocal combination.”
In Number 2, Ech Chiffa, the sonority is highly unsuccessful. The combination does not lend itself either to nearby listening or recording.
Number 3 is a concert version, as it were, of the music played by the rhaita from the minaret of a mosque during Ramadan, the difference being that in the functional version of the piece, there is a long pause between each musical phrase, whereas here the pauses are omitted. The meolody is a setting of Koranic text.”
Bowles, Paul F. "Arcila." from 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