Professor Silverstein's talk interrogates the liminal ethno-racial category of Berber/Amazigh as it develops in colonial North Africa and comes to be reinvigorated in postcolonial France. With a particular focus on the southeastern oases of Morocco, it sketches the colonial military, administrative, and scientific logics which divided Berber (or Imazighen) "autochthons" and black Haratin "allochthons and the consequences of such a divide for local social relations and their transformations in the wake of Moroccan independence and the increased social mobility of Haratin. It particularly examines how questions of race continue to haunt contemporary activism around Berber culture, language, and land—where a discursive embrace of Berber Africanity remains in tension with ongoing local struggles between Imazighen and Harratin over economic and political resources. As the paper argues, these relations—differently figured in rural oases, urban Morocco, and the diaspora—are increasingly framed, particularly among the younger generation, by a global racial discourse on "whiteness" and "blackness" that variously includes or excludes Haratin/Blacks from Berberness and Berbers/Imazighen from Blackness. At stake is how different racial projects and desires coalesce and compete across the transnational Mediterranean.
Paul A. Silverstein is Professor of Anthropology at Reed College. He is author of Postcolonial France: Race, Islam and the Future of the Republic (Pluto, 2018) and Algeria in France: Transpolitics, Race, and Nation (Indiana, 2004), and co-editor (with Ussama Makdisi) of Memory and Violence in the Middle East and North Africa (Indiana, 2006). He is currently completing a book on Amazigh/Berber ethno-politics, historical consciousness, and development in southeastern Morocco. His new research focuses on cosmopolitan immigrant labor politics in the former coal mines of northern Europe. He chairs the board of directors of the Middle East Research and Information Project (MERIP).
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The Chair for Contemporary Turkish Studies focuses on culture, religion, politics, and memory in Turkey and among Turkey's diasporic populations. Its mission is to promote a deeper understanding of Turkey with emphasis on its diversity and a focus on its connections to the world. As the only Chair of its kind located at a European Institute, its specific focus is Turkey's dynamic relationship with Europe. The Chair provides academic leadership in the study of Turkey through interdisciplinary and critical research, teaching and related public activities. It organizes seminars and conferences, and supports doctoral studies on contemporary Turkey.
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