Accepted Paper:

The madrasa revival movement and its local textual production in Southwestern Morocco: an alternative trend to the Amazigh movement  


Tsuyoshi Saito (Kobe University)

Paper short abstract:

This presentation investigates the madrasa revival movement, a social trend of restoring the traditional Islamic education system in Berber communities in Southwestern Morocco. Although the movement is strongly linked with the identity politics of the Berbers, it has not previously been explored.

Paper long abstract:

Anthropological studies in North Africa have recently focused on the Amazigh movement, an indigenous movement of the Amazigh/Berber people. This movement has spread significantly in North African countries, such as Morocco and Algeria, and also in Europe among immigrants from the region. These studies have spanned many aspects of the Amazigh movement such as transnational networks of immigrants in France and their home countries; the emergence of a new sense of their homeland; the impact of the colonial legacy of ethnic policy on self-representation; ethnic relationships in the local societies.

However, an alternative social trend—the madrasa revival movement—has not previously been included in anthropological studies on the Amazigh movement. A relatively silent social movement with its textual production to diffuse their ideas, it is aimed at restoring the traditional Islamic education system in local Berber communities. It is particularly prevalent among the Ishliḥīn, a Berber-speaking people from Southwestern Morocco.

Contrary to the Madrasa revival movement, the Amazigh movement is seen to focus on secular aspects of society in countering the Arabization of North African states, a policy aimed at national integration in the region. This is because Islam is perceived as a threat to differentiating the cultural ethnic identity of the Amazigh people.

Researching the Madrasa revival movement will also highlight another social trend of the communities in the region. That is a trend in some communities to reconfigure their identity, history, social relationships, attitudes toward religion and the secular to orientate it towards Islam and Arabic.

Panel P077
On being "indigenous peoples": connecting local practices with global context