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Failed Women” of Morocco: The Narratives of Lives in Poverty
In my paper, I will be analyzing the dispossessing nature of contemporary neoliberal (semi-) authoritarian regimes embodied in the notion of al-hogra in Morocco, which Hsain Ilahiane defined as “contempt” to refer “to various daily micropractices of injustice and indignation visited upon the vulnerable and the powerless of society by dominant groups.” This concept has been used by North African protesters to describe the maltreatment of popular masses by the countries’ political and business elites. Thus far, the literature has only used it for an analysis of masculine spaces of protest and power as well as to talk about migration of men; however, women too, experience and speak of daily occurrences of humiliation as a result of their gender, class, marital status, lack of formal education, and sometimes ethnicity. Though many illuminating studies have theorized the links between politics, economy, and society, what is missing are people’s own narratives of life under oppressive regimes. This paper is informed by the life-stories of Moroccan low-income women to challenge master narratives, which put the blame for lack of one’s own and the country’s development on poor and illiterate people. Such myths are perpetrated by ‘talking at’ rather than ‘with’ the socially, politically, economically, and legally marginalized women and hence misrepresent not only their lives but also solutions to their plight. The counter-stories of my research participants-married, divorced, single, unwed mothers, orphans, and sex workers -which challenge the master narratives, demonstrate how a neoliberal self-help strategy to socio-economic and political disenfranchisement is deceptive.Instead, women’s narratives of life illustrate poignantly how al-hogra locks people into material poverty and social deprivation. As women who are defined by their class, marital standing, gender, and often ethnicity they are incredibly well positioned to critique the neoliberal model pursued by Moroccan elites, while their experiences explain much about the current state of politics and development in Morocco, and most possibly also other similar contexts within the MENA region. Their experiences are a pressing reminder how the neoliberal authoritarian post-colonial state managed to fracture society not only along class, gender, race, and regional lines but also break it psychologically and erode social solidarity.
Political Science
Geographic Area
Sub Area
Gender/Women's Studies