Inventive articulation: how High Atlas farmers put the global to work

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This chapter explores how farmers in the Moroccan High Atlas put the global to work. It emphasizes the agency of local people and the way villagers seize upon changing opportunities for their own specific, culturally sensible agendas. It also demonstrates the way actions with very particular intentions nonetheless contribute to three broadly ‘global’ processes: the expansion of the wage labour economy, economic development, and the transformation of religious ideology. The paper presents a short case study for each of these three global processes. The first involves the way patriarchal authority inspires labour migration and how this migration inadvertently leads to the dissolution of the extended patriarchal household that inspired it. This case shows how local cultural values combined with resistance to entrenched, traditional power relations allows the wage labour economy to expand. Next, we examine how exogenous resources provided by development agencies at the state and international level become tools in local struggles between villages, lineage segments, and generations of patriarchs. What outsiders see as new ‘development’ is from a village perspective only, a new manifestation of very long-term political dynamics. Finally, we turn to the ways that contemporary understandings of Islamic propriety are put to work by locals to undermine the legitimacy of traditional igurramen or ‘saints’ of the Atlas. These cases are meant to show that global processes are not merely manifest locally, but that what we generalize as ‘the global’ is in an important sense an exogenous framing of disparate localized phenomena.


Copyright 2013 Routledge/Taylor and Francis

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Journal of North African Studies

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Crawford, D. (2013). Inventive articulation: how High Atlas farmers put the global to work. The Journal of North African Studies, 18(5), 639-651.



Peer Reviewed