Studies on European countries “outsourcing” border enforcement and immigration control to neighboring states pose questions about how sovereignty travels beyond nation-state territories; how such transnational regimes are organized in line with market rationalities; and how liberal or humanitarian discourse often reinforces security regimes. Less explored is the relationship between European racial imaginaries, transnational border projects, and shifts in racial-social categories of belonging in neighboring countries. While NGO, media, and migrant accounts have documented a marked increase in racial violence in partner states such as Libya, Algeria, and Morocco, the process of racialization remains undertheorized. In this paper, Dr. Leslie Gross-Wyrtzen takes the externalized border as its object in order to identify how bordering processes redefine the social, especially in regards to race, in Morocco. Drawing on the history of mobility control between North Africa and Europe, she explores the utility of border externalization as an analytic, attentive to the histories and presences it might reveal or elide. Contextualizing Morocco’s own racial history, Dr. Gross-Wyrtzen contends that European border externalization in Morocco reworks both categories of blackness and whiteness across Moroccan society. This has stakes not only for West and Central African migrants passing through on their way to Europe, but for Black Moroccans living in place. By putting racial dynamics at the center of geopolitical analyses, this work situates the “outsourced” border in relation to longer histories of colonial knowledge-making and within trajectories of decolonial struggle.
Leslie Gross-Wyrtzen was a postdoctoral associate with the Council on African Studies and a Faculty Fellow (2019-2020) in the Center for Race, Indigeneity, and Transnational Migration at Yale University. She is a feminist geographer whose work focuses on the relationship between borders, race, and political economy between Africa and Europe. Leslie received her PhD in geography from Clark University in 2019. Her first book project, entitled Bordering Blackness: The Production of Race in the Morocco-EU Immigration Regime, draws on 11 months of ethnographic research among West and Central African migrants moving through or contained within Morocco, and was funded by a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship and a Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad fellowship. Her next project, tentatively titled Afrophobia in the African City: Migration, Violence, and the Political Economy of Difference, examines how urban space across the continent is being reshaped materially and socially as a result of intensifying migration control regimes, and how racial and ethnic difference is used to signify the legitimacy of particular claims to citizenship, mobility, and the right to the city.