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Harvard University

Publication Date

Spring 2009

Program Name

Morocco: Migration Studies


In this project, I set out to understand the relations that Morocco has with its second-generation population abroad, the children of emigrants from Morocco who were born and are living in a foreign nation. As citizens of Morocco and as members of Moroccan families, who nonetheless have lived their lives in another country and may perhaps identify themselves in many ways other than Moroccan, I wondered what role these individuals had in the eyes of the Moroccan state and in the eyes of their relatives who live in Morocco. My questions extended to the very categorization of this group that I have used above: to what extent does Morocco in fact consider or treat this second generation as a part of “its” population? What policies and projects does the Moroccan government target toward this group, and what are the reasons for the development of these policies and projects over time? How do ordinary Moroccans who have second-generation relatives abroad feel about the ties that these relatives have to Morocco and to Moroccan culture and identity? I hoped that searching for the answers to these questions would help me to better understand this facet of migration—the identity of second-generation migrants—from the perspective of a sending country rather than a receiving country. Coming from the United States, predominantly a “receiving” country, I have been used to hearing a dialogue on migration that is focused on the integration of immigrants and the complex identity of their children, categorized as second-generation immigrants, who have ties to multiple national or cultural backgrounds and who are often the subject of political discourse on diversity and cohesion in American society. I wanted to learn how a country such as Morocco, in its role as a “sending country” for migrants all over the world, views the identity of second-generation migrants of Moroccan descent, both within a national political context and within a family context. Morocco is a crossroads of transnational movement to, from and through Africa, Europe, and other continents, and I do not mean to suggest by my title that Morocco should be categorized only as a “sending country,” especially since that would discount the increasing movement of migrants to and through Morocco predominantly from sub-Saharan Africa. However, because of my background and previous exposure to issues of migration in the United States, I was particularly interested in the dynamics of Morocco’s role as a “sending country” and its relation to the second generation abroad, which is why I refer to Morocco as a “sending country” in my title. The choice of the phrase “second-generation emigrants” to describe the population in whom I am interested is also one that could be contested, because this population can be referred to in a number different ways that may imply different political perspectives on which nation these individuals belong to (such as “Moroccans born abroad,” “Europeans of Moroccan origin”, etc.). I use the term “second generation” in most of my paper because this is a term that is very familiar to me in the American context of migration studies, but during the course of my interviews, I alternated among several different terms, including “second-generation Moroccans” and “children of Moroccan emigrants” in English interviews, and “enfants des emigrants,” “enfants des marocains resident à l’etranger,” or “enfants d’origine marocaine” in French interviews. I intentionally tried to avoid using the term “second generation” unless I already knew that my interviewee was familiar with it, because I was not sure whether this term would be understood by most Moroccans, or whether it could be mistaken as a reference to a particular chronological period of emigration from Morocco.


Human Geography | Sociology of Culture


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