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Behind the Veil of Agricultural Modernization : Gendered Dynamics of Rural Change in the Saïss, Morocco

Auteur : Bossenbroek Lisa
Date de publication : 20/09/2016
Type : Thèse / Mémoire
Thème : Agriculture
Couverture : Maroc

Résumé/Sommaire :

The agricultural plain of the Saïss is characterized by rapidly changing rural realities. The Moroccan government frames and promotes the current transformations as a linear development towards modernity and progress for all. The main and most visible protagonists of current changes, at least according to those promoting and celebrating them, are two types of audacious men; ‘entrepreneurs’ and ‘modernizing farmers’.
Attributing too much power to these two types of actors in shaping current dynamics is misleading; it makes the experiences of rural young people, of female and male wageworkers, of families who are forced to sell their land and of rural women ‘fall away’, making it seem as if they are marginal or unimportant.
This study aims to unveil Morocco’s agricultural modernization plan by illustrating how agrarian processes in the Saïss are not a logical, self-evident or smooth transition to a higher stage of development or modernity. They are a form of globalizing capitalist development which is messy and contradictory, and which is marked by, and re-produces existing gendered social hierarchies. In this dissertation I want to explore how gender and social difference come to matter in current processes of agrarian change and vice-versa. I do so by putting the experiences that often ‘fall away’ from agrarian analyses at the heart of my analysis: the voices and stories of those subjects that seldom figure in formal accounts of change, yet without whom nothing at all would have happened. In doing so, I explore how agrarian transformations re-arrange and are re-shaped by socio-material reconfigurations that offer or impose new cultural ways of being, relating and identifying. I aim to carefully analyze the emergence of new desires and aspirations, tracing how subjects skillfully navigate through various structures of domination, seeking to fulfill their new becomings.
This dissertation is structured in seven chapters. Chapter 1 starts by recalling the different messy human encounters of processes of agrarian change. It presents the various theories that have inspired me to rethink current processes of agrarian change and how they are significantly marked by gender differences. I discuss old and new debates of agrarian political economy and illustrate to which extent they are useful to understand how larger processes of agrarian change re-pattern social relations of access, use and control over productive resources. I then elaborate on various feminist scholarly literature to further think about how processes of agrarian change are both marked by, and constitutive of, gender and social differences. My understanding of gender has importantly shaped the different venues I explored to think about the relationship between gender and processes of agrarian change. Throughout this dissertation gender is regarded as something unfixed, never definitive and as performative.
Chapter 2, presents my methodology, in which I provide a brief outline of the Morocco’s Saïss region and describe the case study, a dissolving state cooperative, on which most of this research is based. I conducted the field research over a period of one year stretching between 2011 and 2013, which various recurring visits of several weeks over 2014 and 2015. I elaborate on the various manifestations of agrarian transformations, which consist of changes in tenure relations, access and control over groundwater, labor organization, and the active presence of female wageworkers and young people, which formed the building blocks of this dissertation. I conclude this chapter by explaining the various methodological choices and fieldwork processes...

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