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Reckoning with the outside: emigration and the imagination of life in Central Morocco

Elliot, A; (2012) Reckoning with the outside: emigration and the imagination of life in Central Morocco. Doctoral thesis , UCL (University College London).

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Abstract

This thesis explores migration as the abiding imaginative trope in the social life of the Tadla, a rural area of Central Morocco at the feet of the Atlas Mountains where emigration to Southern Europe has been pervasive since the 1980s. Complementing mainstream anthropological literature on migration, which tends to focus on the causes and effects of migratory flows in varied local settings, this study begins with the question of what migration is imagined to be in the first place, and characterises migration’s imposing role in social life through this specific ethnographic understanding. The thesis approaches the phenomenon of migration in the Tadla by grounding its investigation in the native concept of l-barra, ‘the outside’, a polysemic concept that signifies simultaneously specific geographical places (e.g. ‘Europe’), inexhaustible possibilities for better futures, and, more metaphysically, an entity with unique powers over people and things. Two main arguments guide this thesis with respect to l-barra. The first is that l-barra is the constitutive feature of an entire cosmology of migration in the Tadla, in relation to which not only migration but also life more generally is imagined. The second is that by virtue of its constitutive role as a horizon of and for the imagination, this ‘outside’ is also best delineated as an entity-cum-concept that affects social and intimate life in the Tadla in very concrete ways. To develop this argument, the thesis focuses in particular on how migration is both inflected by and in turn inflects local notions of gender and personhood. By tracing how l-barra is implicated in those very practices that define and qualify gendered subjects in the Tadla, the thesis suggests that, in the ethnographic context of Central Morocco, conceptions of gender do not only influence the process of migration, but are also in large part borne of it.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: Reckoning with the outside: emigration and the imagination of life in Central Morocco
Language: English
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1380710
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