Tierra McMahon (LSE) - 2020-21 Students

Sacrifice, Sport, and Street Art in ‘Le Maroc Utile’: Performing and Negotiating ‘The Modern’ in Morocco and Beyond

My research examines the political economy of modernity in Morocco with attention to how modernity narratives are employed to justify or change social/cultural practices. Focused on the region known in the local vernacular as ‘le Maroc utile’ (‘the useful Morocco’), the project explores conceptions of this largely emic (though not uncontroversial) category of place and attends to performances and negotiations of ‘the modern’ in spheres of activity that figure largely in the lives of those who live there. The spheres of activity—based on extensive pre-fieldwork in country—include: 1) sacrifice; 2) sport; and 3) street art and are explored through anthropological methods, including long-term fieldwork. Through the scope of these inter-related spheres of activity and by co-practicing activities with my interlocutors, the aim is to understand the influence of these performances and the greater negotiation of Moroccan modernity in the 21st century. A second aim of the research is to apply findings from ‘the Moroccan case’ to discussions of modernity and modernization that have gained traction globally and which speak to some of the key challenges of our time, including those that address the Anthropocene and speaking for others.

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