Accepted Paper:

'Morocco is a prison!' Culture of migration and imaginary mobility among young Moroccans  


Carlo Capello (University of Torino)

Paper short abstract:

Culture of migration; imaginary mobility; young Moroccans. This paper describes the relation between social inequalities and imaginary transnational mobility in Morocco.

Paper long abstract:

The purpose of this paper is to describe and analyse the imaginary mobility and the culture of migration widespread among the young inhabitants of the two Moroccan cities of Casablanca and Khouribga, strongly marked by transnational mobility.

This culture of migration emerged as a response to a local situation made up of strong class inequalities and a general lack of opportunities, especially felt by the young, which perceive such predicament as an existential imprisonment. Morocco is a prison for the young Moroccans of the subaltern class. Emigration is for them the only way towards social and economic opportunities. Transnational mobility is the only, hard and hazardous way towards upwards social mobility.

For this reason, emigration is highly valued, migration projects are widespread in the local population and nearly everyone has kinsfolk or friends abroad, in Italy or elsewhere in Europe. That's why we can talk of a culture of migration, whose most interesting side is the collective imaginary of migration. Foreign countries, Italy for example, become imaginary worlds, a Foucaultian heterotopia for the migrants-to-be, an imaginary screen on which to cast their frustrated desires and needs.

However, while the culture of migration is so widespread, only a minority of potential migrants is actually able to leave, because of the transnational migratory policies. For many people the desire for mobility is just that: a desire, a dream. From this point of view, too, Morocco is for many young people a prison from which it is difficult to escape.

Panel IW01
Mobility: frictions and flows