‘Beneath the Muslim peel’: Racial science, French native policy, and the question of nationalism in colonial Morocco, 1900–1939
My dissertation explores three interrelated fields in Moroccan history. First, it examines how French administrators and intellectuals developed racial archetypes and cultural myths about the indigenous populations of Morocco that allowed for tighter control over the colonial environment. Second, it investigates the roles played by social scientists in the elaboration of the French empire – particularly in the realms of legal and religious reform of the Moroccan state. Finally, it analyzes Moroccan responses to French policies of ethnic and religious division and traces the development of new national and religious identities.
The dissertation explores Moroccan political culture as a composition of myriad forms of expression existing side by side, each affecting the articulation and development of the other. A focus on the active interplay of multiple forms of politicization instead of schematic moments of transition allows for a more comprehensive understanding of the ever-changing culture of resistance and helps historians move beyond essentialist categories such as “traditional” and “modern”. Lying at the interstices of these categories were innumerable composite Moroccan identities that continued to develop despite the stultifying constraints of the colonial system. Over time this development constituted a defense of a way of life, a historical consciousness, and a spiritual territory that, while bounded by the restrictions of the colonial system, had weathered the Protectorate and continued a dynamic growth under colonial occupation.
Middle Eastern history;
0331: African history
0333: Middle Eastern history
0335: European history