Telling histories of the present: postcolonial perspectives on Morocco’s ‘radically new’ migration policy

In September 2013, King Mohammed VI announced sweeping reforms to Morocco’s migration policy that promised to break with decades of repressive border control, respect human rights, and open the path to integration for migrants across the country. In this introductory article, we outline the insights that postcolonial studies offers to understanding the ‘radically new’ migration policy in Morocco, and what such insights might add to the study of (North) African migration policy and politics more generally. Examining Morocco’s migration policy as it ‘actually exists’, the articles in this special issue decentre European actors and narratives, prioritise everyday and informal practices, and privilege subaltern accounts, to bring into view a complex migratory landscape that undermines the Eurocentric categories of ‘externalisation’ and ‘transit’ and that challenges presentist accounts of African migration as ‘new phenomenon’ or as ‘crisis’. We contend that these articles constitute an archive of what Ann Laura Stoler [2016. Duress: Imperial Durabilities for Our Time. Durham, NC: Duke University Press] calls ‘colonial histories of the present’, narratives animated by imperialism’s afterlives. Telling these present-day histories provokes a reckoning with the ‘colonial presences’ that influence migration politics today, at the macro-level in relations between former metropolitan and colonised countries, the national level where implementation is subject to the central government’s strategic needs, and the micro-level where racialised, gendered migrants are subjected to quotidian violence. To conclude, we reflect on how such histories of the present offer alternatives spaces of belonging and more expansive definitions of North African subjects.

DOI:  10.1080/13629387.2020.1800204

Year of Publication: