Home Institution

Columbia University

Publication Date

Spring 2018

Program Name

Morocco: Migration and Transnational Identity


My research aims to shed light on a paradox impacting the work of organizations in Morocco which give migrant and Moroccan women the opportunity to gain financial independence through opportunities in sewing and embroider and how the organizations’ financial dependence on the “West” leads to the perpetuation of narratives of women confined to traditional gender roles and in need of “empowerment.” Fondation Orient Occident’s atelier, Au Grain de Sésame’s art gallery, and Association Darna’s workshop seek to empower women in Morocco through artisan trainings and the ability to sell products through the organizations, which rely on funding from Western organizations and the buying power of Westerners to remain sustainable. Thus, while women are encouraged to become leaders within the organizations, their products are sold along with a narrative that depicts them as powerless. My research is comprised of interviews and observations from Fondation Orient Occident’s atelier; an interview with the founder and director of Au Grain de Sésame and observations from the gallery and a training session; and an interview with the founder and director of Association Darna and observation from its headquarters, atelier, and shop. My research illustrates how the different initiatives empower women to become financially independent and become leaders within the organization, but the directors of the organizations take initiative to reach Western organizations, governments, and consumers to ensure the sustainability of the organization using narratives of “empowerment” and “cultural exchange” that undermine the artisans themselves. The directors are not at fault for this and they help women in ways beyond providing them a financial opportunity, but there are larger global inequalities that impact the women who receive services from the organizations and affect how the organizations operate.


Family, Life Course, and Society | Finance | Growth and Development | Migration Studies | Women's Studies


Article Location