As we were making the final edits for “Home and Belonging,” the Israeli army was amassing ground troops in Rafah, the last ‘safe’ refuge, according to Israeli officials, for starved, besieged, murdered, and bombed Palestinians in Gaza. The death toll is underestimated at 35,000 by the United Nations and approaching 40,000 if we consider those still under the rubble. Famished children and demolished hospitals, homes, and schools will remain the backdrop of this special issue, even though it was in the making months before October 7th , 2024, the beginning of the U.S-backed genocidal war on Palestine. Thus, we acknowledge these articles are written against the soundtrack of a rising anti-war and pro-justice student movement, citizen-led protests, shifting geostrategic alliances, and a revival of demands for Palestine liberation worldwide. This special issue carries the mark of traumatic witnessing through social media, and from the (dis)comfort of our homes, as a devastating ground invasion in Gaza is looming in full defiance of international law, and the number of assassinated journalists, researchers, health workers, patients, and dispossessed, punished Palestinians continues to rise. The perspective of death, displacement, and exile has become a haunting reality for a global consciousness already preoccupied with questions of land grabs and expropriation, environmental degradation, and extractive labor, and climate migration.
For this issue, as scholars moving between western and southern academic institutions, we highlight dialogues on these themes, in three languages, forged by struggles in the global south and through perspectives built within these research itineraries and trajectories. We include case studies that explore the meaning of home as communal land (Salime), a destination (Sbaihi), a border crossing (Ou-Salah, Chemlali), an experience of exile (Kassamali), memories of unrecoverable sociality (El Guabli), and a labor trap (Boum, Arab). Travel is an underlying thread in this issue that collapses time and geographies to highlight the embodied movements of ideas, subjectivities, and dreams that have marked our post-colonial times, and neoliberal realities.
Articles in this issue explore land, home, and belonging. through the lens of labor migration (Arab, Boum, Chemlali), land tenure (Salime), environmental change and its ritualization (Ou-Salah, Bouhrous), and resource grabs and estrangement (El Guabli).  Following a core tradition of the journal Souffles/Anfas, we are inspired by intellectual debates shaped by fascinations with Marxism, dependency theory, Third-worldism (Kassamali) and feminism (Salime, Arab, Sbaihi).  These movements of thought were championed in the 1960s and 1970s by two of the most important publications in Northern Africa and the Middle East: Souffles/Anfas in Morocco and Lotus in Lebanon (Kassamali).
“Home and Belonging” conflates in a deliberative manner intellectual journeys of exile, ethnographic inquiry, and personal testimonies, with questions of environmental justice (Ou-Salah), human dignity and labor (Arab, Boum, Salime) and the sanctification of life and sacrality of death (Bouhrous, Sbaihi.)  Home is not merely a spatial location, though geography is key for understanding how people relate to place as identity, itinerary, refuge, or a crossing point. Home is also about past realities and future dreams. It informs identity and is formed through emotional connection, rootedness, expropriation, and promises of return and struggle.
Yousra Sbaihi offers a fascinating account of cemeteries in Fes, Morocco. Situated at the nexus of time and space, cemeteries are multifaceted and cross-generational spaces for mourning, socializing, remembering, and for the renewal of faith and joy. Sbaihi’s article explores cemeteries as mythic places saturated with spirituality, materiality, and circulating social norms. Amal Bouhrous’ article examines the intersection of mythology and environmental politics in North Africa. She explores rain seeking rituals, taghounja, as an enactment of an Amazigh mythology about love and longing. Bouhrous anlyzes the public performance of taghouja as political practice aiming to subjugate climate change to human agency, performed in dances and vocalized in songs and prayers. El Guabli articulates a notion of home saturated with visual memories and sensorial experience of a landscape forever altered by the installation of a solar energy tower. The new commoditized space of extractive energy testifies to the long process of massive land grabs around the Morocco pre-Saharan city of Ouarzazate in the Southeast and activates nostalgia for a lost sociality, family gatherings, and unrestricted landscape visuality. Ahlam Chemlali takes us in a succinct journey from the Sahel to northern Africa, notably Libya and Tunsia, following the dangerous pursuits of two migrants navigating borders where they are at risk of enslavement, contingent refugee status, exploitative labor, and bodily violence and injury. She explores these permutations as a human consequence of European border externalization in North Africa. Chadia Arab illustrates how the politics of temporary work contracts in Spain for Morocan women creates new candidates for undocumented migration. Arab details the rationale behind these women’s decision to break the terms of their contract, and overstay their temporray visa as well as the forms of exploitation, including sexual exploitation, that they are subjected to in Spain’s strawbery fields. Loubna Ou-Salah tackles the gendered perceptions of climate change in Southern Morocco and the differentiated response by men and women. Her paper serves as a comprehensive exploration into the intricate interplay between gender dynamics, risk perception, and environmental resilience. It delves into the essential role of perception, specifically risk perception, and its relationship with gender in shaping different adaptive capacities and strategies for men and women amidst environmental transformations.
Aomar Boum examines the nexus of race, class, and gender, as articulations of labor migration of the Haratine, a racialized social category from the South of Morocco. Aomar Boum’s article reads as an autobiography of family dynamics focused on search of opportunity, love, care, and sacrifice. His article renders visible the social hierarchies that male migration from the Southeast generated, and the networks of labor and opportunities available to other southern populations, notably the Amazigh Soussi, which leave black people, and more precisely, the Haratine, a historically dispossessed population, outside of these networks of solidarity and labor in cities across Morocco and Europe. Boum highlights one of the most hidden aspects of care work by black men in hammams of Casablanca, as a social location one can hardly exit. Zakia Salime explores race and racism as discursive articulations of land rights by the Sulaliyyat women in Morocco. Her article illustrates the struggle of mostly unschooled peasant women for land rights through the prism of women’s agency, experiences, and narratives of loss and hope. She shows how articulating exclusion in terms of ‘racism’ provides women’s claims with political valence while highlighting the nexus of patriarchal laws, colonial legality, and predative capitalism. This article focuses on the case of Mina a Sulaliyya from the Gharb, West Atlantic, and follows her steps as she navigates the structures of her exclusion that she names racism. Sumayya Kassamali’s article takes us on a trip to the vibrant cultural production in 1970s Beirut. She provides a genealogy of engagement with the Palestinian cause by renowned Pakistani poet, Faiz Ahmed Faiz, who was also the founder of Beirut-based journal Lotus.  Besides opening a window into the cultural platforms of solidarities created by South Asian intellectuals around Palestinian resistance, Kassamali situates Faiz’s journey in the dilemma of exile, belonging, and the impossibility of homemaking. We conclude this special issue with an interview with anthropologist Abdelmajid Hannoum about his new book, The Invention of the Maghreb.
This issue was a collective endeavor, and I would like to acknowledge the backstage labor and hours of committed work by the editorial team of this journal and contributing authors.