While Casablanca has much to do with male power and friendships, propaganda morality and adventure, Dar-el-Beida concerns the harried feelings of being a refugee/outsider, the experiences of those in the background of the Hollywood film. They exist in an atmosphere of threat, always on the move but never getting anywhere; their identity is violated and their nationality arbitrarily changed. In short they are the powerless, dependent on chance, corruption or sexual favours to save them. In Dar-el-Beida (the Latinised Arab name for Casablanca), Bogie asks, “do you want my advice?” His cynical answer (in Casablanca) is the unspoken reality of Dar-el-Beida.
In the light of subsequent historical knowledge, the narrative shell of the original film appears extremely innocent, even nostalgic. However, the same storylines are used today to support a continuing insistence on the ethnic purity, territorial expansion and economic domination that appears to many to be an integral part of constructing and maintaining a national identity.
Further text material (PDF): Text in English, German and French by Christa Blümlinger