Valuing Life and Labour at the Borders of Africa and Europe: Migration, Racialisation and Class Formation in Morocco

Lead Research Organisation: University of Oxford
Department Name: Sch of Anthropology & Museum Ethnography


This research considers how interrelated social processes of class formation and racialisation attend the ongoing institutionalisation of the new National Strategy on Immigration and Asylum in Morocco (2013), a critical policy package for the future management of African-European and intra-African migrations in
North West Africa. It offers an ethnography centred in Tangier, a strategically situated port city and economic hub. Here, diverse groups of people from across sub-Saharan Africa on 'regular' and 'irregular' migration pathways are differently 'integrated' and 'excluded' by the institutionalisation of this new
infrastructure of migration management. The governance of migratory flows is articulated through the policing and production of city spaces, the character and rhythms of local labour processes, and the related emergence of novel sub-Saharan urban cultures. This research traces the articulation of processes
of class formation and racialisation through these urban social processes. In doing so, it grounds a series of important debates - concerning the significance of migration and bordering for labour relations, the racial and colonial nature of contemporary capitalism, and current challenges of social reproduction facing people and governments - in an ethnographic and institutional analysis of the mundane realities of not crossing the EU's external borders for sub-Saharans in Morocco. This is essential as articulated processes of migration management, racialisation and class formation ultimately occur through the lived relations of people. They need to be understood in such terms, even at such an internationally significant site as the African European borderlands of Morocco. The over-interest in clandestine migration (in policy orientated and more critical migration research) needs to be supplemented with attention to how 'regular' and 'irregular' migration pathways are co-constituted in Morocco. Morocco is currently branding itself as a world leader in migration management, and as an example for other African nations, making it an especially important case study. This research is of broad relevance and pressing importance for labour and anti-racist movements, humanitarian and solidarity initiatives, and migration policy-makers on both sides of the Morocco-EU border. It will be of interest to anyone who wants to understand the role of contemporary regimes of migration management in North West Africa in the perpetuation and transformation of socio-economic inequalities and racialised social identities.


10 25 50

Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
ES/P000649/1 01/10/2017 30/09/2027
2439761 Studentship ES/P000649/1 01/10/2020 31/12/2023 Ewen Albert MacArthur