Accepted Paper:

Desire for the local in a well-founded tower of Babel: global stories from a Moroccan school  


Charis Boutieri (King's College London)

Paper short abstract:

This paper reflects upon the experience of high-school educators in urban Morocco as they wonder how to ‘shape’ the future generation, trying to creatively organize the diverse cultural flows that cut hierarchically through the educational system and Moroccan society itself.

Paper long abstract:

This paper explores the experience of public high-school teachers in urban Morocco as they conceptualize the educational future of their students. Product of the ambivalent project of Arabisation (Morocco's de-colonizing and nationalizing initiative) and of the policy of rapid privatization (which favors instruction in French), public education is intimately entangled in the ambiguities of a (post)colonial context as it transits into its more globalized form. These ambiguities involve the maintenance of Arabic as the language of identity and cultural production, which is simultaneous to the unashamed promotion of French as the language of "progress" and social mobility. Carrying their respective ideological positions as "old" and "modern", Arabic and French re-invent themselves through technological development and the social uses that ensue from it, without necessarily altering the power dynamic between them.

Through the questioning of educators as to what cultural and moral basis to build the new generation on, Morocco emerges as fundamentally indescribable along a local socio-cultural line. And even though the rallying slogans of press and public concentrate on the dualism between tradition and modernity, an emphasis on performative paradoxes by teachers and their students shows Morocco as irreducible to absolute schisms either. This way, the multi of language is here a plurality that points to the fissures of social structure as it sketches itself "otherwise" for the future.

In a moment when the boundaries of the local burst symbolically, how do educator and ethnographer alike conceptualize their tools for organizing this particular space of global diversity?

Panel W113
Creolizing anthropology: connectivity, diversity, and reflexivity in a globalizing world