Accepted paper:

By all means: staying connected to the dream


Dorte Thorsen (University of Sussex)

Paper short abstract:

Based on ethnographic research in Rabat, Morocco, this paper explores the tactics of long-term migrants from West and Central Africa concerning regularising their stay in Morocco, making a living and keeping connected to their desired future through a range of legal and illegal activities.

Paper long abstract:

This paper looks at migrants from West and Central Africa who have been in Morocco for at least one year. Apart from university students who often are supported by bilateral study grants, the migrants in Morocco live in a variety of regular and irregular situations ranging from applying for asylum upon arrival or signing up for short-term education to legalise the stay in Morocco to overstaying visas, entering clandestinely, losing their passport to theft or selling it to mobilise resources. Migration management in Morocco makes it very difficult to obtain a residence permit legally, which is a prerequisite for obtaining longer-term and skilled employment. A residence permit, refugee status or the demand for asylum also reduce the risk of police harassment and deportation to Oujda, a well-known border town between Morocco and Algeria. Based on ethnographic fieldwork between February and September 2012, the paper examines whether migrants' tactics of legalising their stay or not shape the ways in which they make a living in Morocco and it analyses the opportunities and risks to which European and Moroccan migration management give rise. I question whether all irregular migrants who have been in Morocco for a long time are disconnected from the imagined and desired promises of Europe and explore how different people navigate the Moroccan context through legal and illegal activities to stay connected to their aspirations for the future, whether they hope to continue their journey to Europe or not.

panel MMM14
New geographies of hope and despair