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Women in Morocco  

Fatima Sadiqi

Women in Morocco have a rich, complicated history. In the past, they expressed themselves through creating designs in rug-weaving and related arts such as cloth making, tattoos, jewelry, collecting and safeguarding oral literature, building one of the first universities in the world, and serving their communities as political leaders and saints. In the postcolonial era, women have continued to produce oral and written texts. Such texts have been used to resist colonization; others have called for girls’ and women’s education and participation in politics. Since Morocco gained independence, women have continued to be present in the public sphere and have built one of the strongest women’s-rights movement in the Arab world by constantly adapting to historical, political, and social changes and endeavoring to network beyond ideological and political “redlines” that have characterized postcolonial Morocco. Using approaches that may be termed secular, Islamic, or a combination of both, Moroccan women organized themselves in the public sphere and advocated for social, economic, legal, and political reforms. In this way, they succeeded in marking important eras in modern Morocco and became crucial players in the public landscape. In the aftermath of the 2010–2011 uprisings that shook North Africa and other Middle Eastern countries, Moroccan women have produced new forms of movements and activism and given new meanings to their actions. More importantly, they are reinventing their identities, using new strategies and methodologies, and continuing the creativity and resilience that has marked their long history of agency. With the 2011 formalization of Amazigh (Berber) language as an official language in Morocco, women’s ancestral knowledge has come full circle not only as part of Moroccan women’s voices but as a central feature of Morocco’s homegrown identity.

Article

Women and Gender in French North Africa, 1830–1962  

Julia Clancy-Smith

The workings of modern empire can better be viewed through the lens of gender because gendered hierarchies illuminate broad, intersecting aspects of the colonial project. Community, kinship, household economies, religion, education, sexuality, social engineering, nationalism, and transnational reform movements were all inflected by imperial patriarchy in various guises. This perspective is especially rich for “French” North Africa (Algeria, Tunisia, and Morocco) from 1830 until 1962 since the region and its peoples were subjected to intense forms of “European” settler colonialism. From the start, the “woman question” assumed particularly fraught and contentious dimensions whose repercussions can be detected even today. Nevertheless, colonial North Africa did not represent a self-enclosed container. Transimperial and global processes shaped the sociopolitical terrain, and in turn. Policies, practices, and resistance in the Maghrib exerted a powerful torque far beyond its limits. Key to understanding women, gender, and settler colonialism is the state of the “archive,” the sprawling corpus of records, writings, words, things, and images left in an empire’s wake. The voices of women, children, and “ordinary” people, those labeled “the colonized,” have until recently been missing in conventional narratives. As Antoinette Burton observed, the archives themselves structure “the conceptual frameworks of women’s and gender history.” In the imperial historical context, the task of recuperating and restoring lost voices is all the more problematic, yet urgent. One might also add that the fundamental question is “whether ‘women’ is a category at all.”