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 number 1, I was beset by a problem which constantly cropped up during recordings, and which so far I have not I have not been able to deal with successfully. Moroccan folk-music is overwhelmingly percussive, it is true, as is most African music, but this ought not to mean that melody is therefore inaudible. However, it generally is nearly that, whether one is listening from afar or from nearby, and this means that any recording of it will also show the enormous disparity of volume between the rhythm and melody sections. If one reseats the musicians so the the drums are further from the microphone, the men, not neophytes to recording techniques, automatically modify their dynamics in order to maintain the same relationship of percussion to melody. The inescapable conclusion is that for them the drums must predominate, and that melody is dependent for its effect on a heavy foundation of insistent rhythm. This is the way it always sounds and performance, and the way it seems destined to sound recordings as well
‘Forhou bel Malik Jana’ is a way of saying ‘We’re Happy Happy the King Came Back to Us.’ Haouziya Chaabiya is a generic title literally meaning popular house the the king came back to us. ‘ Popular’ is a word with a new meaning in Morocco; it refers to time, and means ‘contemporary.’ The present day in Morocco could be called the Chaabiya Era; ‘the people’ are conscious of themselves as an entity for peculiar to the region of Marrakech. Any piece from the repertory of the musicians of the Haouz is called a haouziya."
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