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Pomona College

Publication Date

Spring 2014

Program Name

Morocco: Multiculturalism and Human Rights


During the post-colonial period, Moroccan visual artists belonging to the “School of the Sign” reformulated traditional symbols of Moroccan heritage in new and innovative ways in order to directly challenge orientalist conceptions of Moroccan identity. Today, media outlets have heralded the rise of the musical genre of Moroccan hip-hop as a potential new medium for the transmission of Moroccan youth identity and revolutionary ideals. As a result, the purpose of this study was to investigate how Moroccan rappers assert their personal conceptions of cultural identity in a larger framework of resistance against societal expectations. What, if any, are the “signs” of Moroccan heritage appropriated and refashioned by Moroccan rappers? In order to ascertain the existence of any links, this study synthesized existing scholarship with information gathered from six semi-structured interviews with Moroccan rappers and four informal interviews with Moroccans intimately involved in the local hip-hop scene. Ultimately, the results of the study revealed that while Moroccan rappers do not have any coherent strategies for embedding identity into their music, a modern and complex young Moroccan identity nevertheless emerges from the manifestation of hip-hop culture. The preoccupation of Moroccan rappers with certain broader themes—struggles for authenticity, linguistic choice, class discourse, fluidity and change, and resistance and contestation—reveals the way in which rappers craft a dynamic and often conflicted identity that is undeniably Moroccan in character, but nevertheless resists simplistic categorization by external forces.


Gender, Race, Sexuality, and Ethnicity in Communication | Music | Politics and Social Change | Race, Ethnicity and Post-Colonial Studies | Social and Cultural Anthropology


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