[P6383] The Politics of Culture in Postcolonial Morocco and its Diasporas

Created by David Stenner
Monday, 11/29/21 2:00 pm


The legacy of the Spanish and French protectorates in Morocco (1912-56) has received increasing scholarly attention in recent years as historians have dealt with topics such as colonial ideologies, administrative practices, and local political mobilization. The same goes for more contemporary events, in particular the rise of the local feminist movement as well as political activism since the so-called “Arab spring”. The post-independence period, by contrast, remains largely understudied; few articles and monographs in any language analyze the kingdom’s trajectory during the second half of the twentieth century and the lasting implications it had on Moroccans, whether they remained in Morocco or emigrated elsewhere.

Our panel seeks to address this historiographic void by studying the development of a postcolonial Morocco and its diasporas. We specifically focus on how Moroccans of different backgrounds — Muslims and Jews; Arabs and Berber; urbanites and rural inhabitants — envisioned their country’s path forward. What does decolonization mean? Which role should minority groups play in an independent Morocco? What should be the relationship between state and citizens, and between nationals and ex-compatriots? Who has the right to remember the nation’s colonial past, and how could this past be used for the pressing concerns of the present? How would a country with sky-high illiteracy rates successfully participate in the global economic system? Would migration abroad mean liberation or merely entail new forms of colonial discrimination? These are some of the questions our papers seek to address through empirical inquiries. Moving beyond formal political institutions and the actions of state officials allows us to focus on the lively public debates that took place among Moroccans after 1956, both at home and abroad. In so doing, we situate the country in larger disputes about the very nature of modernity, and the meaning of freedom, that engulfed the Third World at that time. Ultimately, we demonstrate how divergent visions of the kingdom’s future moved beyond the confines of seemingly abstract intellectual deliberations and directly impacted local society.

We argue that the time is now ripe for a reevaluation of postcolonial Morocco by engaging with public debates about culture and politics. Our panel will not only be relevant to scholars of the Maghrib, but to all those interested in the decolonization of the Middle East and North Africa.


Anthro; Hist; Lit; Anthro; Hist; Lit; Anthro; Hist; Lit; Anthro; Hist; Lit




Shay Hazkani

(University of Maryland, College Park)
Panel Participating Role(s): Organizer; Presenter;

David Stenner

(Christopher Newport University)
Panel Participating Role(s): Organizer; Presenter;

Brahim El Guabli

(Williams College)
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;

Jessie Stoolman

(University of California, Los Angeles)
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;