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On the Move in Morocco: Historical Geographies of Race, Space, and Mobility, 1300s - Present

  • Author(s): Vukovic, Anita
  • Advisor(s): Hart, Laurie K
  • et al.
Abstract

Much has already been written about Morocco’s recent migrant regularization reforms as a new moment for African geopolitics. In contrast, very little has been written about the way in which these reforms, the second phase of which was implemented in December 2017, articulate with the Moroccan state’s ongoing forcible displacements of black sub-Saharan migrants from northern coastal cities like Tangier, to more southern, out-of-the-way locales like Tiznit and Errachidia. Using ethnographic field notes from a preliminary research trip to Rabat and Meknes in summer 2017, this thesis attempts to situate such experiences of displacement within Morocco’s emergent landscapes of emplacement, too, by reconciling them with pre-colonial, colonial, and post-colonial geographies alike. A Braudelian-inspired historical overview is provided of the regional movements, land claims, and patterned internal and external displacements that have shaped the modern nation-space of Morocco today, from the time of the Islamic conquest of North Africa and the writings of Ibn Battuta and Ibn Khaldun, through the decades of European intervention, to the ongoing Western Sahara conflict and recent EU projects of border outsourcing and fortification. In the process, I argue that the current moment does not, in fact, represent a deviation from Morocco’s previous histories or its entrance into a new geopolitical era. Rather, I interpret it as another iteration in a centuries-long process of localizing Moroccan state identity and power against a larger regional geography marked by immense racial, cultural, and sociolinguistic heterogeneity.

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