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Disaster Ecologies

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Land, Peoples and the Colonial Modern in the Gharb, Morocco, 1911-1936

image of Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient

This article investigates the place of communal land and migratory populations in the colonial modernization projects of the Gharb, Morocco. A combination of ethno-environmental myth and an unerring faith in European-style private property played a preponderant role in shaping rural reform. Bound by international law to uphold “traditional” forms of communal, migratory life, French policy-makers instead transformed the land and juridical cultures that gave such social practices meaning. The resulting “disaster ecologies” of the Gharb—and their devastating human and environmental consequences—were not accidental but central to the realization of a particular brand of colonial modernity in Morocco.

Affiliations: 1: Eckerd College


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