Maghreb From the Margins
This issue of Middle East Report on “Maghreb From the Margins” addresses the evolving challenges that the peripheries are posing to power structures in Algeria, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Tunisia and the Western Sahara. Recent courageous actions of everyday women and men—alongside the shifts in the political and economic dynamics connecting the region to state and corporate interests in Europe, North America and the Gulf—force a rethinking of taken-for-granted assumptions about authoritarianism and the rentier social compact. The contributors to this issue are not recounting yet more sad tales of the failed dreams of Arab socialism but are instead describing the diverse hopes and strivings by marginalized people as they navigate political openings, economic ruptures, social dislocation and unexpected opportunities. The authors insist that understanding the experience of, and resistance to, marginalization in today’s North Africa requires turning attention to actors and sites normally considered outside of the political process.
Issue Editors: Zakia Salime, Mona Atia, Jacob Mundy, Paul Silverstein
Elif Kalaycıoğlu reviews Chiara de Cesari’s book Heritage and the Cultural Struggle for Palestine, which explores the complex and shifting terrain of Palestinian heritage politics at work in both the Palestinian Authority and civil society organizations over time and under the conditions of settler colonialism.
Aslı Iğsız discusses her book Humanism in Ruins, which examines the long-lasting impacts of the 1923 Greek-Turkish Population Exchange Agreement. Challenging the common portrayal of the population exchange agreement as a success story, she unveils how the discourses of liberal humanism and coexistence went hand in hand with a biopolitics of segregation. Her research also offers fresh insights into today’s discriminatory policies both on the national and international level.
The North African nation of Mauritania may be peripheral in global affairs, but its robust network of Islamic scholars is central to transnational Islamic movements and ideas. Zekeria Ould Ahmed Salem traces the influential political economy of Mauritanian Islamic scholarship that has both bolstered and opposed fundamentalist networks. As Mauritania remains deeply stratified along racial, caste-like and gender lines, its internal hierarchies shape how it impacts global Islamic thought. Forthcoming in MER issue 298 “Maghreb From the Margins.”
Morocco’s massive Noor solar energy project is not only generating electricity. Based on her fieldwork and interviews, Zakia Salime explains how the extraction of land, labor and water by the Moroccan Agency for Sustainable Energy is intertwined with development programs, farming initiatives and job expectations that are shaping quotidian life and gender relations in the surrounding villages. Forthcoming in MER issue 298 “Maghreb From the Margins.”
Inequality between rural and urban areas of Morocco has been deeply entrenched since the colonial era. But recent government public policies that ostensibly seek to reduce disparities are in fact further marginalizing already impoverished communities. Atia and Samlali’s research reveals what is going wrong and why residents believe that the only way to get essential infrastructure like roads and schools is to protest. Forthcoming in MER issue 298 “Maghreb From the Margins.”
Marginalized populations in Tunisia, who have little access to economic and political resources, sparked the 2011 protests that ousted the Ben Ali regime. In the following ten years, marginalized people, especially in rural areas, have continued to push for more jobs, better services and social justice. Sami Zemni examines the long-term processes and dynamics of marginalization in Tunisia and shows how the struggle against it is changing the country’s politics. Forthcoming in MER issue 298 “Maghreb From the Margins.”
One of MERIP’s signature issues over the years has been the question of Palestine and the Arab-Israeli conflict—partly because of its intrinsic interest but largely because so much myth and cant clouds the mainstream media coverage of this subject that independent analysis is particularly necessary. This primer by Joel Beinin and Lisa Hajjar is a good place to start in understanding what is at stake as events unfold.
(Photo of Israeli separation barrier by Alfonso Moral.)