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Hello everyone, I'm Ali Bedhad, the Director of the Center for Near

Eastern Studies um here at UCLA and on behalf of my

colleagues, I would like to welcome you all to today's lecture by

Professor Paul Silverstein entitled "Berbers, Blacks, Jews:

The Colonial Legacies and Racial

Politics of the Amazigh Revival." And before I turn the virtual podium to

my dear colleague Aomar Boum who will

introduce our distinguished speaker, I would like to

point out that this lecture is part of our

two-year Mellon-funded project that aims

to implement the first phase of what we

hope to be a larger

curricular initiative to transform

Middle Eastern studies at UCLA.

Our project, this particular project,

focuses on ethnic and religious minorities

in the Middle East and North Africa and beyond. And we

use a series of scholarly lectures and workshops,

a visiting scholar program, and

pedagogical training for graduate students,

and community based initiatives that

provide opportunities

for high schools, community colleges, and

universities to participate.

We hope to use the minority lens and to highlight

the larger social, political, and cultural and

economic and legal issues at the core of this sort of new

AMENA societies. So I would like to

take this opportunity to thank the

Andrew Mellon foundation for their generous grant

that has made this and all our

initiatives on the topic of Minorities in the Middle East

uh possible, as well as all my colleagues

and graduate students who have been working on this

project. The list of names

are too long for me to go on at this

point. I now would like to briefly uh

introduce our wonderful colleague

Aomar Boum who is a sociocultural

anthropologist as many of you know.

And also he's the program director of

our Mellon Grant on Minorities in the

in the Middle East. Aomar's a stellar ethnographic

work addresses the place of religious

and ethnic minorities

in MENA region. He has published widely

on this topic. His publication

includes an important book, Memories of

Absence: How Muslims Remember Jews in Morocco

by Stanford University Press that has

been translated in several languages

including Hebrew. And recently, a co-edited collection

with Sarah Stein entitled The Holocaust and

North Africa which was published by

Stanford University Press as well.

And so now I would like to invite Aomar

to introduce our speaker,

thank you. Thank you, uh Ali

and I would like to thank Alim for

allowing us to host, for hosting,

at least partly this talk and for accepting to host

the Center for Near Eastern Studies Mellon

Minorities talk.

Dr. Silverstein is a Professor of

Anthropology at Reed College

a Cultural Anthropologist of North Africa and

the North African Diaspora. Dr.

Silverstein holds a PhD in Anthropology

from the University of Chicago. He is the

author of Postcolonial France:

Race, Islam and the Future of the Republic

published by Pluto in 2018

and Algeria in France: Transpolitics,

Race, and Nation published by Indiana

University Press in 2004.

He's also co-editor with Ussama Makdisi

of Memory of Violence and– sorry Memory and Violence

in the Middle East and North Africa in

2006 by Indiana University Press.

And with Jane Goodman of Bourdieu in Algeria: Colonial,

Politics, Ethnographic practices and Theoretical Developments published

by Nebraska in 2009.

His work appeared in many edited volumes and academic journals.

Dr. Silverstein is one of the most

prolific anthropologists of North Africa and Europe today.

He has published on immigration, race

and ethnicity, nationalism, colonialism

and post-coloniality, cultural politics,

sports, urban anthropology, historical anthropology,

practice theories, Marxian and post-Marxian theory,

Islam, urban activism, and France, North Africa and the Middle East.

He's completing an ethnography on

Amazigh Berber ethnopolitics,

historical consciousness, and development in Southeastern Morocco

and has been pursuing new research on

the history and politics of immigrant labor

in the coal mines of post of post-war Europe.

He chairs the board of directors of the

Middle East Research and Information

project otherwise known as MERI. I personally believe that

one of the most important contributions

of Dr. Silverstein remains his ability to describe and

analyze through ethnographic work

grounded in historical understanding, how race

and ethnicity play out in North Africa

and Europe, especially in France, by focusing on the

dynamics of Islam, Arabness, Frenchness,

Race and Amazigh identity. Over 20 years of research and academic

publications on Morocco, France, and other European

spaces, Dr. Silverstein followed Berberness

from the hinterland of Southern

Morocco to French and other European metropoles.

And in doing so he was able to capture the nuances

in shades of race, ethnicity, and religion,

mostly as they play out

in North Africa and Europe through the process

of Migration and Colonialism. Without further ado

please join me in welcoming Dr.

Silverstein. Thank you, Aomar [...] for that

incredibly generous uh introduction. Um,

I'm gonna share my screen. Uh, so I do

have a powerpoint. A very

simple one, um just so you're looking at

something other than myself um, but otherwise um,

oops there we go, that gives you

something really nice to look at. Um,

this is, thank you again, to everybody for

coming, thanks to everybody uh for including me in this

really exciting Mellon

series on Minorities in the Middle East

And North, Africa as Ali has described.

Um, it's really a great project and I feel very,

very privileged um and thankful to be part of it.

um even in this minor way. Um, as uh I think

Aomar gestured too, I wanna share some of

the ethnographic and archival research

I've been pursuing over the last couple

decades on the Amazigh revival in

Southeastern Morocco and beyond. This is, um

the kind of image I'm showing is a

little bit of, give you a sense of where I'm

doing the research in the Southeastern

Moroccan oasis.

Throughout the period of the French

protectorate in Morocco from 1912 to 1956,

administrators elaborated a series of

overlapping racial, conspatial

boundaries that effectively divided

the realm between Muslims and Jews,

between an ethnically Arab

north and a Berber south between a

centralized administrative [...]

and a region of tribal dissidence of the [...]

between the economically exploitable and in

French, "le Maroc utile,"

the useful Morocco and the areas

which had little chance of "mise-en-valeur,"

Of development, le Maroc inutile, between

juridical zones of sharia courts

of [...] jurisprudence and those regulated by

Berber customary law or "Azerf"

as well as between variously identified

psychological and ecological

races. In this lecture, I want to interrogate

further the liminal ethnoracial category

of Berber, or Amazirgh,

as we now say, as it developed in

colonial North Africa and comes to be reinvigorated

in the contemporary transnational Amazirgh revival.

With a particular focus on the

Southeastern oasis of Morocco, again, as the– gives you a sense of the

image here, I will sketch the colonial military,

administrative, and scientific logics

which divided berber or Amazirgh [...]

from local Jews and black Haratin

or locally known where I did the research [...]

And the consequences of such

divides and potential reproachments

for local social relations and their

transformations in the wake of Moroccan independence.

I'm going to particularly examine how

complex questions around race and religion

come to underwrite, indeed even haunt

contemporary activism around the Amazigh culture, language, and

land, where a discourse of avowal, of

secularity, and even phylosemitism

positions local Amazigh militants against

burgeoning Islamic piety movements

and where an ambivalent embrace of

Africanity remains in tension with

ongoing local struggles between

increasingly segregated

and racialized Amazighian [...]

over economic and political resources. As

I will argue, these relations differently

figured in the rural oases in urban Morocco

and in the diaspora are increasingly framed,

particularly among the younger

generation, by the Palestinian

transnational solidarity movements

and by a global racial discourse on

blackness and whiteness,

that variously include or exclude Arabs

and Blacks in particular from Amazirghness

and [...] for the Amazigh people

from Arabness and blackness.

Now just to be clear, for some of those

in the audience, I am not arguing

that the various peoples who speak the

Amazigh languages were somehow invented

by Arab or French colonizers. Indeed

their historical and ongoing courageous

resistance to such colonizing forces

is remarkable. We can't say enough about it.

Nor am I arguing that anti-black racism

is somehow endemic to Amazigh

North Africa. What I am trying to get at

is how these various peoples

have come to recognize their language

and practices as part of a shared and bounded culture,

which is which has become viscerally

meaningful as such

and the object of today's often fierce

political struggles.

At stake is how differently racialized

demands for equity and inclusion

coalesce and compete for scarce ethical

political resources.

How rival de-colonial tactics of

strategic essentialism

play out differently across local,

national, and transnational scales

of empowerment, of an engagement.

Much has been written on the role of

racial classification in the

consolidation of French rule in North Africa.

Literature to this point has focused on

dividing rural strategies

built around postulated ethnoracial,

religious, and ecological, divides between

Muslims and Jews between sedentary

Berbers and nomadic Arabs.

These heuristic dichotomies function

relatively well in 19th century Algeria,

the heir of the Ottoman millet system, with Jews

broadly in urban [...] and

Arabic and Berber speakers [...]

on the aggregate, respectively occupying

the urban plains and rural mountains.

Racial and religious difference thus

seemingly mapped directly onto the physical landscape,

with the latter naturalizing the former.

Moreover, such spatial markers

substantiated a temporal ideology

that posited the relative autoctany of

berbers protected in their mountain redoubts

from the imperial projects of successive

Phoenician, Roman, punic Arab and Ottoman invaders where

they selectively adapted

uh Judaism, Christianity and later Islam

but without erasing their Berber


If French colonial officials understood

their own civilizing mission as a

historical recapitulation of the Roman

imperium, they nonetheless

ethically legitimated their project

as a means to liberate their

authentically Mediterranean, if not Proto-European,

Berber subjects from what they took to

be the ravages of Arabo-

Islamic despotism. And what has become

known as in the scholarship as the

Berber vulgate, colonial ethnologists

supplemented geographic and

archaeological arguments for Berber

primitivism with psychological and sociological

claims of Berber compatibility with

secular modernity and thus as potential allies in eventual Évoluer.

They reinvigorated Ibn Khaldun's

theory of tribal asabiya

to emphasize a Berber mode of communal

solidarity independent of

palace or mosque structures. They put

into village assemblies and customary

tribunals as incipient democratic institutions.

Moreover if in the eyes of Western

observers, Berbers manifested a primitive

independence that bordered on violent

anarchy. This made them simultaneously less susceptible

to religious fanaticism and fatalism.

Early military scholars like general

Eugène Dumas noted that Algerian Kabils, "Have

accepted the Quran but have not embraced it." Unquote. Noting

that their worship of saints and

reliance on marabout, or [...]

as well as their inconsistencies in

observing daily prayers, Ramadan fast, and

prohibitions on alcohol and pork.

With Islam constituting but a, quote,

"superficial varnish,

a simple stamp, a feeble imprint, unquote,"

the Kabils' potential transformation

into laborious colonial subjects was

understood to be comparatively unencumbered.

Throughout the colonial period, officials

attempted to reinforce the separation

of putatively secular secular pagan

Berbers from Arab Muslims and Jews,

through diverging educational policies

in separate administrative and legal regimes.

Such a racial taxonomy required much

ideological and bureaucratic labor to supersede

the heterogeneous material and cultural

realities that administrators actually encountered

whether in urban or rural zones.

Even the most isolated mountaintop

village had been connected to cities and

coastal ports through centuries of

economic and religious exchange.

Sufi brotherhoods crisscrossed north

Africa with lodges and properties

in both cities and marginal villages. In

many cases they constituted the bases

for translocal, political movements.

The geographies of Jewish sainthood

overlapped and interpenetrated Sufi

milieus with healers serving

all faiths in rural areas. Pilgrimage and

religious travel not only organized

annual mass departures to distant holy

lands but also knitted together the

North African landscape

in smaller scales of ritual festivals or

individual pursuits of [...].

Berbers, Arabs, and Jews and other

overlapping racialized groups

shared in these spiritual journeys,

innovating religious and linguistic

creoles in the process.

In like fashion, networks of trade

stretched across the entire region. This

included various classes of merchants

often as Aomar and Daniel Schrader have

shown involving Jews and Muslims in

complex long-distance relationships who served as

intermediaries between pastoral herders,

sedentary agriculturalists, and urban artisans.

Villagers frequently sold their labor in

cities or in neighboring regions during

harvest times and vast numbers of rural

folk became permanent migrants as a result of drought

or upheaval. If endogamy functioned as a

normative practice to maintain group

boundaries, polygamy,

concubinage, and matrimonial strategies

multiplied unions between lineages as

well as between ethnic and more rarely

religious groups.

As a result of centuries of such

mobility, exchange, affinity, and alliance,

French administrators did not actually

encounter pristine ethno-linguistic

racial or religious groups firmly

bounded and easily identifiable by language,

physionomic, traits,

cultural forms, spiritual practices, or

psychological dispositions,

but rather dynamic populations with

complex social interrelations,

living for the most part in vast

multilingual contact zones or

heterogeneous cities.

Now this is not to claim that the

distinction French military scholars

drew between Arabs, Berbers,

Jews, and others was entirely arbitrary

or the pure figment of an orientalizing

gaze that imputed a eurocentric

racial taxonomy on an amorphous landscape.

North African populations by no means

embrace fluid or hybrid identities in a postmodern sense.

Muslims may have foregrounded their

community of faith and kinship to other

peoples of the book over social rank, class, or ethnic

background but they nonetheless

accumulated genealogical capital

and fetishized origins as strategies of distinction.

Through toponyms and Teknonyms, groups

traced their honorable ancestry or [...]

to a renowned place or to a famous

forebear. Sometimes to the prophet or to one of his companions.

Through naming, conversion, and marriage

practices some rural berber-speaking

families assimilated themselves into

Arabness or sought to purify their

lineages from what they considered to be lowly categories

of people as marked by religion, skin

color, or profession.

In other words, the French racial

ideology was itself everywhere in

dialogue with indigenous modes of

social classification with processes of distinguishing self

from various others. As Chouki El Hamel

has described in his book "Black Morocco,"

the Moroccan social landscape was marked

by quote, "Zones of cultural exchange,

borrowing mixing and creolization,

as well as violation, violence,

enslavement, and racially

segregated zones in which any definition

of race in a Moroccan context

is fluid and flexible and resists

facile analyses," end quote. So I hope my

analysis is not facile.

I want to argue, hopefully not in a facile way,

that it is in the confrontation and

collusion of these different modes of classifying

that relatively mutable and internally

heterogeneous racial categories

became ideologically segmented and semantically fixed.

One site where this dialogic of racial

classifications can be seen in stark

relief is in the frontier contact zone

of the Moroccan pre-Sahara.

On the southeastern margins of the

French protectorate, the pre-Saharan

oases were not pacified until the early

1930s. A good 20 years after the establishment of the

protectorate. Until then they were the

epitome of the historical [...],

inconsistently subject to administrative

reaches and tax collection

of the Moroccan [...], the central state.

While successive sultanates including the Alawi monarchy

now in power since the 17th century

trace their origins to these very same southeastern oases,

their authority over these frontier regions remained

primarily limited to the mediation of local [...]

or the occasional military expedition.

Unable to initially establish presence

in the region, the French colonial

administration relied on native

informants, historical documents,

comparative ethnographies, travel

narratives, and espionage

to build a base of knowledge of the

local, social, and political structure.

A simple Arab-Berber dichotomy imported

from Algeria proved grossly insufficient

to account for the oasis social complexity

comprised of Arabic and Berber speakers,

Muslims and Jews, lighter, and

darker-skinned peoples, nomads and

sedentary populations,

and a host of other overlapping and

dynamic groupings determined by occupation,

descent, and tribal affiliation.

Administrators approached the region as a geographical

contact zone between a Northern white Africa

and a Southern black Africa, a racial

spatial category which they borrowed

from the Arabic [...] Sudan

which itself was borrowed from classical

Greek geographic texts.

As a median region, the racially

variegated populations of the

southeastern oases were posited to be

the result of the progressive settlement

competition and intermarriage of groups

migrating from either side of this

racialized geographic divide.

In this vision, the southeastern Moroccan oases were

characterized in the colonial discourses by way

stations along trans-saharan caravan routes

and sanctuaries for refugees from

insecurity elsewhere.

The oases were thus presented as having fleeting form

rather than deep structure.

In their puzzling over these peripheral

regions, French military ethnologists and

later indigenous affairs officers

particularly struggled over the origin

and socio-political situation of Jewish and black

populations. Debates raged and to a

certain extent continued to rage

over whether the Tamazight-speaking Jews

residing in the Mellah quarters of the oases

walled adobe construction, the [...] or the Ighreman,

and here's a picture of one ighrem,

one ksar and another also from the region.

And a picture of a Mellah, a Jewish quarter

whether these residents of such Mellahs

were Berberized Jews or Judaized Berbers. While the Mellahs

themselves like this one

were built or perhaps rebuilt in the

past 200 to 300 years,

archaeological evidence from local

cemeteries point to an even longer

Jewish presence

in the region. Primarily relegated to

crafts and trade and no longer sustained

by the increasingly interrupted saharan

commerce, Jewish residents took advantage

of new opportunities for mobility opened

up by the French protectorate

um and the relative pause in

inter-tribal conflict and the build-up

of road and urban infrastructures. Many abandoned the Mellahs.

This is in the 1930s through the 1970s,

for the newly constructed colonial town centers

where they manned shops and cafe bars

and where they were joined by other

Jewish merchants

having migrated with the

French forces from the Middle Atlas

towns of Meknes and Sefrou.

Nearly all left for Israel after

Moroccan independence but as Aomar has

traced in the southwest

of the country, their presence lives on

in material traces in the memories of older residents and

as, we shall see,

in the ideology of Amazigh as

activists for whom Jews are good to

think about the fate of diversity

in an Arabo-Islamic world.

The oases' black residents have posed a

different kind of problem for colonial

French administrators and post-colonial

Amazigh militants.

In general, protectorate officials

justified their de facto tolerance of

racial inequality and even residual

slavery in Morocco, the latter condoned by some Islamic

jurists, as long as those enslaved were

not Muslims,

through a myth of Islamic societies as

relatively colorblind.

Clearly such claims to a raceless

Morocco begged a number of questions,

including the historical conflation of

blacks of Sudan with slaves [...] and their occupation of

the lowest social ranks in rural communities.

Long-standing folk stereotypes and

mythologies have associated black skin with

animality and carnality as [...]

has documented in the [...]. Such ideological

justifications for the historical

oppression of black Africans regardless

of religion persisted deep into the 19th

century and their traces continue

in everyday attitudes which treat

blackness in Morocco as inauspicious.

Darker skinned sedentary populations have

occupied the southeastern Moroccan oases

long before the settlement of any

particular pastoral Amazigh or Arab tribe

to whom they were in relations of

dependence, patronage, and protection

and were primarily relegated to farming,

irrigation, and blacksmithing work.

Generally, references Haratin but calling

themselves [...], those from the direction of the Qibla are [...]

in different parts of the

Southeast. Those of the market are [...],

for instance. Those of the simply Draa valley.

they were distinguished from formerly

enslaved Africans or [...]

by appearance, occupation, and freedom of mobility.

They were nonetheless for the most part

reduced to servile rules as in serf

laborers for the dominant Amazigh

and [...] notables and the object of

local prejudice.

Well, white oases residents following

normative practices of endogamy

often refused to marry their children to

Haratin who they characterize as being

without honor or [...]. Or even more

lowly uh and even more lowly or perhaps

even more degraded than [...]

who in some cases resided with Amazigh

and [...] notables in their households as domestic laborers.

If not legally enslaved, Haratin share

croppers were historically treated as

enslavable. In 1699, Moulay Isma'il

the sultan at the time, over the

objection of certain jurists who argued

for the protection of all peoples as Muslim subjects,

justified the forced conscription

of Morocco's black populations into his

slave army, his [...]

on the basis of their supposed history

of prior enslavement.

Well the term Haratin likely derives

from Berber color term [...]

meaning dark or reddish, or possibly from

the Arabic verb, [...]

to cultivate. It was and remains commonly translated

in across in popularly in Morocco as [...]

as freedom of the second order.

Indeed, black residents of the oases did

historically have something like

second-class citizenship

with only secondary access to land and

water rights and no political representation

in local tribal assemblies or to

customary tribunals.

Many were forced to sharecrop the

fields and trees owned by the pastoral

tribes as as [...], as sharecroppers

working one-fifth

of the cultivated grains, dates, and olives.

Through ritual sacrifice, they entered

into formal relations of clientelism

with, given white lineages seeking their

protection from the ravages of war and drought,

these patron client relations have

tended to endure even after the

termination of formal share cropping

contracts such that to this day some

Amazigh and [...] in the region

point to given black co-residents as our Haratin.

French colonial officers took the

apparent dependent status of oasis

blacks and Jews as a pretext to exclude them

from colonial political negotiation and

administrative collaborations which they

undertook with the Shurafa and Amazigh tribal notables.

The historical degradation of black

Moroccans is enslavable and of Jewish

Moroccans as protected subjects and their protective

and their progressive administrative

disconnection from the territories inhabited

further marginalized them from the

protectorate racial category of Berbers

as well as from the post-colonial um

Amazigh category or activist category of Amazigh.

In spite of the overlapping linguistic

competences and cultural practices

that blacks and Jewish oasis residents have with those

of formerly pastoralist lineages who

more easily get identified and identify

themselves as Amazigh.

From the early period of the French

protectorate, officials and scholars

define Morocco as essentially an original, originally a

black a Berber country

that had been subsequently "penetrated" by

other races. This is their terms,

penetrated by other races

of Arabs, Moors, Jews, and Blacks who

remain by definition

permanently [...] even if they themselves

could trace, you know, ancestry to the

region and had lived in these regions for

millennia. Such racializing distinctions

bolstered through criminological

photography, such as we see

in the image here, these are images taken

and classified in local colonial reports.

We're further substantiated by the

military logic which ordered the protectorate.

French military scholars presented

Berber-speaking pastoral tribes as

martial peoples par excellence

and compiled intelligence dossiers "fiches de tribus"

that evaluated their warrior value,

their "valeur guerriere" of each tribe

alongside their geography, ethnography, and history.

In general, colonial officers

characterize tribes like the [...]

of the [...] valley as uncontestedly

"good warriors, courageous and steadfast. That was a"

quote. While Jews and Blacks were

qualified as quote.

Worse than mediocre. Such a portrayal of Berbers of

Amazigh peoples as a martial race and

the exclusion of Blacks

and Jews from the category of Berberness

dovetails with indigenous social

taxonomies in the oasis.

For [...], men much like their rival

[...] documented by David Hart, the

capacity for armed warfare

constituted the primary index of

their awesome, the insurance of their honor,

and the condition of possibility for

remaining "free men"

which is often the common translation of of Amazigh.

In contrast, Blacks and Jews were denied

the right to bear arms in the oasis.

After submitting to the French army,

Amazigh men living in the oases only

reluctantly gave up their rifles and

moreover refused to adopt a fully

sedentary lifestyle

of agricultural work or wage labor

associated with Blacks or with poor

women. To this day, many [...] men

in the region regard the days of [...],

the days of dissidence, with a certain nostalgia.

They've cultivated a detailed historical

consciousness of their heroic battles

against rival tribal confederations,

French forces, of pacification and the post and even

the post-independence Moroccan state,

and they still see themselves in

permanent resistance to the [...].

Through their, through the installation

of formerly dissident white

tribal leaders as local [...] and [..]

according to a general policy of

indirect rule, colonial officers further sutured the

equation of martial qualities with tribal

identity and the racial boundaries of


In spite of their putatively Jacobin

ideology of Republican equality

and their self-presentation as

emancipators of Blacks and Jews from

Arabo-Islamic despotism

and their eventual encouragement of

black representation in local village

assemblies, these French administrators

prioritize local social order

and did not attempt to reform oasis

sharecropping or patronage practices.

Black oasis residents thus remained in

the eyes and structures

of the French tribal administration in

an effective state of second order

freedom and incipient in serfability effectively

laboring bodies with little or no political status.

Sorry, moving ahead of myself.

Balancing their concerns for order and

stability, local colonial administrators

were simultaneously charged

with furnishing workers and soldiers for

the farms, mines, factories, and trenches of northern

Morocco and France

and thus indirectly encourage physical

and social mobility.

Much more so than Amazigh and [...] men

who appeared disinclined to engage in

manual labor of any kind

and were further reluctant to relinquish

the oversight of their agricultural

patrimony, black sharecroppers lacking in property

were often– were offered and quickly embrace the

possibility of earning wages

in northern Morocco or abroad. Working in

occupations that paralleled their labor

specializations in the oases as water

carriers, as tanners, butchers, cultivators,

and construction workers,

black oasis men moved in large numbers

throughout the 1940s, particularly to

Casablanca where they established a semi-permanent community.

Subsequently in the 1960s, a number went

on to work in the coal mines in northern

France though the chief recruiter from a former

indigenous affairs officer Felix Mora favored

white Berber men according to his own racial taxonomy

where he considered them more physically

robust and psychologically stable for

the challenging underground work.

In contrast those from Amazigh and [...]

notable families many of whom

would go on to garner permanent posts in

the military or in

the post-independence Moroccan

administration. In contrast to them,

black immigrants across the generations

have maintained closer ties to the oases

and have been able to translate their

accumulation of short-term migrant

economic capital into longer-term social and political

capital, what some have characterized as their

final emancipation.

They used immigrant remittances to

purchase historically Amazigh

and [...] land and in doing so

established a modicum

of symbolic [...]and local prestige as

Hussein [...] has documented for the

neighboring Ziz valley,

these developments actually help produce

a black sense of community and ethnic


for what amounted to the demographic majority of

southeastern Morocco.

In the [...] valley where I do my

research around the town of [...],

this transformation in the local

racializing political landscape is manifest.

Already in 1947, Captain [...]

predicted that the times were changing

quote, "The harder working Haratin are a bit

by bit buying back the lands of the [...]

that the [...] had usurped from them

and they will end up constituting an

aristocracy of money

that will replace the aristocracy of

race. Unquote."

By 1950, Haratin descendants had gained

uh representation in the village

assembly and after Moroccan independence

became an increasingly important electoral bloc in

the local municipal and communal councils.

In subsequent years the return of black

immigrants and then continued out

migration of white murad men and women

further tipped the demographic balance

in the region in favor of the former

who now constitute upwards of 80 percent

of the population.

Local politics has become very much a

black and white affair,

with elections cons contested by

candidates that are sometimes that are

often racially defined

and local oversight positions such as

the [...] or the [...]

the irrigation administrators, split or

twinned accordingly.

This racialized transformation has

provoked widespread social anxiety

among the local like Murad and other

self-identified Amazigh residents of the

southeastern oasis and to a great extent

has spurred the rapid growth of an

Amazigh cultural revival in southern

Morocco since the early 1980s.

The Amazigh movement was originally

organized by students in Rabat,

as a salvage anthropological operation

to collect berber folklore, oral poetry,

music, and performance traditions

in the hopes of garnering the official

recognition of the Amazigh language and culture

and their insertion into the state

school of media. The movement has taken

on multiple local ramifications in the

southeastern oasis where cultural associations such as

Tilelli or freedom,

um one from, based in Goulmima

um who are shown marching here in 1993

in Errachidia

um where they flourished since the early 1990s.

In fact this is a march that set off and

they become very important, this was a

march that actually

set off in some ways on the the official

recognition of Amazigh language and

culture in Morocco, the arrest of this six or seven

people um seen here

led to um an international outcry

and a change of state policy.

In the [...] valley, local immigrant

school teachers such as

some of these pictured here travel to

remote mountain villages to record

the repertoires of octogenarian poets.

Others hardly transcribe the oral history of

the older generation and still others have trans

has courageously fought for the

preservation of traditional

architectural forms

and the protection of [...] remaining

collective lands from confiscation by the state

or the sale to private investors. This is by the way, this

Amazigh movement has flourished over

the last um 20 years. Ym such that now you see

protests very large protest march

marches happening across Morocco

whether as part of the broader uprisings

of after 2011 or more recently.

Here, if local activists certainly

appreciate the modern technological

innovations and communications networks

that permit their activities and underwrite

the framing of transnational Amazigh culture

and territoriality um that allows for

the connections that allow

for urban activists here to connect them

to the rif we see a picture here of um [...]

the great resistance fighter to

French and Spanish colonialism and then

in the nineteen teens um.

The framing of the discourse in really

truly international global terms.

Um if this is truly appreciated, uh many

nonetheless many local [...]

activists are simultaneously nostalgic

for an old local order

of pastoral honor and moral rectitude.

They look on a horror as they see landless [...]

landless their landless cousins so

financially destitute as they have to

share crops sometimes

even in the fields of their own former

black sharecroppers.

Others bemoan what they see is

increasing number of thefts in the oasis

which they attribute to

youth no longer as respectful of social

control once exerted by [...]

elders. In this local activist

nostalgia for the days of

dissidence and pastoral nobility is the

very absence of Jews

that make them good to think.

This is uh shows you how much the modern

state has taken on the

the mantle of of Amazigh culture.

It's the very absence of local Jews that

make them good to think

for Amazigh activists. Memories of

familiar relations with Jewish neighbors

gestured to former times when Amazigh

notable lineages could offer hospitality and protection

on their own terms. Jewish material

traces such as these headstones

from the local cemetery offer temporal

outside to the hegemonic Arabo-Islamic time space

of Moroccan nationalism built around

Salafi reformists and school textbook mythologies of

Berber Yemeni origins and their later re-civilization with the

arrival of Islam.

Jewish traditions and technology

materialize a robust oasis civilization

before Islamic civilization a time

before religious nationalist time

in which the Amazigh movement strives to

resurrect in modern form.

To the public presence of a

contemporary Salafi pietism

past Jewish Amazigh coexistence points

to an incipient secularism

or at least an ecumenicalism

as [...] describes, latent in the oasis.

Indeed Zionism presents a positive model

for Amazigh aspirations and a number of

activists have publicly called for

reconciliation and normalization with Israel

rather than the hegemonic solidarity

with the Palestinian cause.

In Goulmima, neighboring Tinjdad where

this picture is taken, um [...] activists

have taken stewardship

of the abandoned melas and cemeteries

unearth Jewish artifacts and prominently

displayed them in local museums of Amazigh

And jewish heritage. This is one

instance here's um the entrance to a museum in

the Mellah of Igoulmimin and the artist and

curator with his own combination

of Jewishness and Amazighness.

As I've discussed elsewhere, during the Ashura

younger residents in Igoulmimin

masquerade as Jews [...]

in celebration of what they take to be a

particularly Jewish festivity. Here

is an image from one of the carnivals from

2004. Unlike the similar carnivals,

Abdullah [...] has documented in the High Atlas,

Islamic mythopoetic signs are broadly

bracketed from this celebration

in Goulmima, what they call [...] or the

Jewish Ashura. And Jews become objects

of dignity, respect, and munificence

rather than of derision and scapegoating

as they are in other

Amazigh carnivals throughout the High Atlas.

By putting on Jew face,

Amazigh activists, I would argue, perform

and, they might argue, perform

secular cosmopolitanism in a local [...]

to an increasingly watchful national in

international public.

In contrast the significant presence of

blacks in the oases,

the ongoing significant presence

of blacks in the oases

make them contentious rivals rather than

absent figures of the Amazigh strivings.

Some of my [...] interlocutors

derided their black neighbors for

betraying their cultural heritage,

for opting for darija over tamazyrt and for

importing urban religious pieties and practices

into the region historically famous for

sufi and pagan heteroproxy.

They decry the neglect of Ighraghman


the local [...], these

multi-family habitations that have

fallen to ruins, which

were in fact abandoned by by the Amazigh

residents as well.

Um and those that are left are largely

occupied by unhoused

black migrants to the region. They know

us to blame them for

having abandoned that kind of local

patrimony in favor of new mosques constructions

funded in part through local donations.

In spite of their ostensible avowal of

universalist principles and their claims

of Africanity as an element of Amazigh and Moroccan identity,

some local activists continue to

articulate a racializing discourse that

links black people to animality and

sexuality, liking the [...] to [...]

and resent them for over

reproducing, fulfilling the oasis with

black bodies. My [...] cafe friend, [...]

himself of [...] descent

even projected as a dystopian future. He said, "Paul,

if you were to return to Goulmima in 100

years, you wouldn't find a single Moradi

only Haratin. It's in their nature." Unquote.

He connected this to a broadly Nietzschean self-critique

of his own [...] fellow people

as well as fellow Amazigh tribes for

having given up their will to power

and become effectively [...].

With their historical means of dominance

and social mobility blocked in their

cynical resignation to the minimal comforts of

their faded patrimony,

it is the white [...] like [...]

who now claim to feel

and served or at least entrapped in a

home they increasingly no longer

recognize. There's a side of

non-recognition in [...] that's fallen to

mostly this ruin with one of the towers of the

opening, the opening

rebuilt as an urban in urban mosque style

to which to them is a complete uncanny

um destruction of a sense of


In contrast, younger black residents are

more than happy to have escaped what

they seem to be

an older cast hierarchy and the petty

tyranny of the [...] big men

to whom their parents were forced to submit.

Many are suspicious of today's Amazigh

activists whom they accuse of

trafficking in an ostensibly indigenous culture

to support narrow [...] tribalism. "You

can't trust them Paul,"

when one [...] woman explained to me

"They're foxes, they're [...]. They talk

about culture and community

but they only care about themselves."


For others who've become adepts of new

Islamic piety movements, they find in

religious discipline

the lineaments of a post-racial morality

and a model for a future

egalitarian community in the oasis and beyond.

So in conclusion, and thinking through

these various dimensions of oasis

racializations that connect and divide Amazigh,

black, and Jewish persons, I've been

attempting to chart a historical

anthropology that underlines the

imperial project as a dialogic encounter between European

racial taxonomies,

indigenous cultural schemes, and the

pragmatics of military control.

French military officers found their

mirror image and natural interlocutors

in Amazigh pastoral tribesmen also warriors,

so it seemed if the two remain separated

by a diversity of intermediate positions

that were neither so clearly black nor white.

To a large extent the post-colonial

present builds from this colonial

encounter. Amazigh activists have

represented themselves more and more

as the autophanous noble savages of the

colonial ethnological literature at the

very moment that they're [...],

that their dominance in the region is

called into question.

Through the successive departure of

their Jewish proteges,

the emancipation of black sharecroppers,

and the destruction of the material

bases for their landed status.

The Amazigh cultural revival is thus

co-constitutive with the

parallel aspirations and outspokenness

of black Moroccans for equity inclusion call it

in kind of theoretical discourse uh meta schismogenesis

um to kind of play on Bateson's notions.

But the century-long colonial and

post-colonial dialogue cannot fully

encapsulate the

dynamics that currently shape lives in

the pre-saharan oasis.

Black and Amazigh diasporas are now far

flung with Italy, Belgium, Sweden,

Australia, Canada, and even the United


occupying newly prominent places on the


Moroccan cognitive maps. Satellite and

internet media connect oasis residents

into networks of activism, fandom, and

flirtation whose boundaries are no

longer easily definable

by the contours of empire however

construed. While local marriage

strategies and exchange relations retain

a certain durability

and continue to outline group boundaries,

these do not constrain identification

and belonging

in quite the same way or with quite the

same force as they did even 20 years ago

when I first visited the oasis.

Rather we have to also account for the

work of larger discourses and stylistics

of race, ethnicity, gender, class, and


emerging from the American ghetto so to


or the French banlieue in reformulating,


and unbundling local inclusions and


While recent conflicts within the

student unions of regional Moroccan

universities over issues

like support for the Palestinian or [...]


have indeed tended to take on racialized

dimensions, younger folk in Goulmima and

elsewhere in South

Eastern Morocco also collaborate and

work together,

a walk across lines of racial and race

and ethnicity in projects of local,

cultural, and infrastructural development

as well as sometimes an even more

spectacular protest against state


After all, Amazighness and blackness and


have never been discreet in bounded

categories no matter how essentializing

some activist discourses can be.

The nietzschean dystopian [...]

projected is but one of a number of

possible futures for the region

and there may be good reason to hope

that self-identified Amazigh

or black residents will ally their

situated tactics of strategic


and find common ground and common cause

in projecting a Morocco and

largely a world that could be otherwise.


Wow, thank you a lot. I know it's a lot. I


But this uh thank you so much

Paul. You really delivered,

um one of the most, I think you


a century of research

on the topic so I really want to

thank you again. Thank you very much