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“Fighting against clandestine migration”: Sub-Saharan migrants’ political agency and uncertainty in Morocco

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)201-215
JournalPoLAR: Political and Legal Anthropology Review
Issue number2
Early online date5 Dec 2018
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 5 Dec 2018


Drawing on ethnographic research in Morocco amongst irregular migrants from Central and Western Africa, this article shifts the exploration of what it means to be political by examining how migrants’ political participation is entangled with their attempts to overcome the uncertainty inherent to their lives. Recent scholarship has exposed and decentred boundaries between the citizen and the illegal migrant, placing a prominent focus on migrants’ subjectivity and the radical potential of migrants’ protests. However, studies of migrants’ protests have often been limited to the “west”. Through an examination of the development of a migrants’ association (ALECMA) in Morocco, I show how studies of migrants’ movements and protests must account for their multiple, uncertain and sometimes seemingly contradictory claims and demands. Failing to do so, risks curtailing any radical potential for political subjectivization and contributing further to migrants’ marginalization. The article illustrates how migrants’ aspirations can not be reduced to regularisation in a host country and, crucially, how hampered political agency is articulated with constricted mobility in a country closely cooperating with Europe in migration matters.

    Research areas

  • Morocco, political subjectivity, irregular migration, uncertainty, migrant protests

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