Out of Africa, Out of Europe: African and European Migration in Morocco

June 21, 2018
6:00 pm-7:30 pm | London

Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilisations

Since the early 1990s, the southern Mediterranean has emerged as a hub for migration, both “legal” and “illegal”. In this area, a large number of West Africans and young Moroccans, including minors, make daily attempts to cross the border into Europe. The city of Tangier, because of its close proximity to Spain—only fourteen kilometers—is one of the main gateways for this movement. It has also become a magnet for middle-and working-class Europeans seeking a more comfortable life. In this talk, Dr Majid Hannoum will use Tangier as an ethnographic site, and focus on its three largest migrant populations: Moroccans, West Africans and Europeans. All these communities meet in the city and share its space, albeit unequally.

This lecture addresses this relatively new pattern of migration traversing the Mediterranean shores. More specifically, it considers what makes Tangier one of the most attractive cities for migrants preparing to cross to Europe. Many live in the city for several years before they cross and many others return after leaving, or get stuck in the city for longer than they expect. Migrants not only live in the city, but they live the city—they experience it, they encounter its people, and engage with its culture, walk its streets and participate in its events.

The present study looks at not only migrant movements to Europe, but also, comparatively, migrant movements to Africa itself, to the city of Tangier. The aim is to show that migration is not one-dimensional or straightforward. By studying its multi-dimensionality, this study touches on larger issues as well by comparing the situations of West Africans and Europeans in the City.

The lecture also looks at how a city has changed and been transformed by the flows of migrants from both Europe and Africa. It is a study of two main regimes of mobility—one African, the other European. The lecture will also include an examination of how Moroccan society has been affected by the flow of migrants from Africa and from Europe.

Majid Hannoum: A graduate of Princeton University and the universities of Fez and the Sorbonne, is an Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of Kansas. He taught at the Ecole de Gouvernance et d’Economie (Rabat), Bard College at Simon's Rock, the New School for Social Research, Eugene Lang College, and the College of New Jersey. He is the author of Colonial Histories, Postcolonial Memories (2001), Violent Modernity: France in Algeria (2010), Practicing Sufism: Sufi Politics and Performance in Africa (ed., 2016), and Living Tangiers: Migration, Race, and Illegality in a Moroccan City (in press). He is currently working on a book project titled The Invention of the Maghreb: Between Africa and the Middle East. 

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The Aga Khan University-Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilisations
210 Euston Road