A life of waiting: the threatening uneventful in Central Morocco
Alice Elliot (Goldsmiths, University of London)
Paper short abstract:
By focusing on the generative and threatening potential of waiting and inactivity, the paper traces ethnographically the significance of the uneventful in Central Morocco, where migration and movement play a fundamental role in the imagination of existence.
Paper long abstract:
This paper traces the ontological implications of 'a life of waiting' in an ethnographic context where movement and migration play fundamental roles in how existence is imagined. Based on extended fieldwork in a rural area of Central Morocco where emigration to Southern Europe is pervasive, the paper explores emigration and movement from the standpoint of those who neither migrate nor move. Focusing on how emigration inevitably and incessantly produces 'waiting beings' as much as 'mobile' ones, the paper explores how uneventful waiting for documents and visas to come through, husbands to return, remittances to arrive, houses to be built, weddings to be celebrated and children to be conceived are constitutive elements of what emigration in Central Morocco is and does. The paper shows how 'waiting' and 'sitting' in Central Morocco are fraught with dangers and ironies and have the power to engender specific types of people with specific types of social relations. It focuses in particular on how inactivity and immobility can be ontologically threatening, tracing how young men speak of 'sitting' (i.e. non-movement) as 'nothingness' and how women married to absent emigrants conceptualise their years of inactivity as wives and lovers as having the power to transform them into 'partial-women'. By focusing on the generative and threatening potential of waiting and inactivity, the paper aims ethnographically to trace the significance of the uneventful in Central Morocco.
Waiting for Godot & Co: modes and moods of the uneventful