Accepted Paper:

« Urbanisante » and « ruralisante » trends of relations between humans and nonhumans in a small mountain town (Chefchaouen - Western Rif - Morocco)  


Isabelle Jabiot (Université Nanterre Paris Ouest la Défense)

Paper short abstract:

In Chefchaouen the relations with non-humans has an analogical ontology character including animist elements. But comparing singular beings in situation allows the hypothesis of urban and rural trends. This leads to a reflection on the cultural learning and on the children as category of beings.

Paper long abstract:

This communication suggests a reflection on the relations between humans and non-humans in a small Moroccan mountain town. The originality of Chefchaouen lies in the approach to urban and rural systems in the city's identity and daily life. The relations between human and nonhumans include animals, breed or not, spirits, jnun-s, Shaytan, God, the evil eye, angels, children and adults. The analysis of ethnographic data proves that an analogical ontology (characterization of beings and things according to the space in which they are located) with one-off animist elements is significant. This ontological scheme (defined as a cosmological form and a system of attributes and interactions of beings) is comparable to the scheme found in the surrounding jbala rural area (Gonzalez-Vazquez, 2010) and the South of Morocco (Simenel, 2012). Nevertheless, the city presents heterogeneity and diversity. Through the ethnography of individual modes of existence and in situation characterization of beings it's possible to assert that a plurality of trends of perceptions and interactions with nonhumans happen. Using a comparison of singular and individual discourses and practices the hypothesis of the existence of two trends, "ruralisante" and "urbanisante", can be made. This leads to the questioning of cultural learning processes, individual life trajectories and ways of familiarization with the environment. For instance, in the case of literate and scholar urban, a rural-origin migrant or a goat breeder. Furthermore, it appears that children are a specific class of beings whose interactions with non-humans happen to be very distinctive from the ones adults have.

Panel BH23
Non-human and human beings and their entanglements within Muslim milieux