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Migration and metamorphosis - on the power of the insignificant in a Moroccan city

Dennis, D.S.; (2010) Migration and metamorphosis - on the power of the insignificant in a Moroccan city. Doctoral thesis, UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

This thesis is based on fieldwork undertaken in Ifrane, a migrant city in the Middle Atlas Mountains, Morocco. The community has always faced what Simon Harrison has called a ‘scarcity’ of identity in suffering social, cultural, linguistic and economic dislocation. However, a close analysis of everyday life has afforded new insights into the creation of relational stability and migrant well-being through little understood, seemingly insignificant, phenomena. It uncovers an unrecognised relationship between identity and numerical objectification in a Muslim cosmology and, consequently, challenges and overthrows existing assumptions of heterogeneous religiosity. The numeric utilisation of seemingly insignificant objects by migrants is instrumental in the creation of relational nexuses so important for well-being in their new home. In this city migrants find happiness at the intersection of the self, thing and number: a reshaping of identity. It is achieved through the migrants’ complex interactions with the physical world, and relies on their ability to numerically strategise and organise objects. Numeric operations make relationality possible and allow knowledge to be shared across linguistic and cultural boundaries. In all cases well-being in this new environment is found not in the extraordinary or the idiosyncrasy, but rather through normality. By amplifying and introspecting the connectivities that emerge from acts of calculation in the everyday, this thesis contributes at once to a burgeoning study of ethno-mathematics and to the study of well-being in anthropology, drawing attention to the relational nature of actions and their foregrounding in fragile social worlds.

Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Title:Migration and metamorphosis - on the power of the insignificant in a Moroccan city
Open access status:An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language:English
UCL classification:UCL > School of Arts and Social Sciences > Faculty of Social and Historical Sciences > Anthropology

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