MESA Book Awards

Karen E. Rignall

University of Kentucky

2022 Nikki Keddie Book Award Co-Winner

Karen E. Rignall

Karen E. Rignall

An Elusive Common: Land, Politics, and Agrarian Rurality in a Moroccan Oasis

Cornell University Press

An Elusive Common is a rich, rigorous ethnographic account of land use and ownership in the Mgoun valley of southeastern Morocco, placing this seemingly peripheral area at the center of fundamental questions about global capitalism, environmentalism, development and political agency. Situating the politics of land and land ownership in Morocco within both its historic and contemporary context, Rignall’s nuanced study highlights the creativity of the Mgoun’s people as they grapple with the forces of government disinvestment, climate change, political marginalization and the legacies of French colonial land policies, while also attending to the ways in which such grassroots solutions may generate new forms of inequality. In a moment where many people around the world see “the commons” as a possible way forward to more just political futures, Rignall provides a grounded, nuanced account of the complex politics of the commons, inviting us to rethink the role of commoning in politics and governance

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