In a groundbreaking lecture entitled "Race: The Floating Signifier, " Stuart Hall defined race as a signifier that forbears all attempts of fixation around biological differences, religious, or scientific truths. Hall argued against an “ontology of race that links racial identification to any other human characteristic” (qtd. in Mitchell and Rosiek, 2006).  Hall did not dismiss race as a construct, or racism as a systemic and emotional-embodied experience of discrimination. He rather emphasized the fluctuations and permutations that complicate any stabilization of the meaning of race. In this poststructuralist perspective, race is also productive of linguistic categories that are detached from any fixing of racialized identities.  I build on these insights to explore race as index for other matters. I show how Sulaliyyat women use ‘racism’ to describe their experience when seeking land rights.

Figure 1A wood-burning site for making charcoal in the Gharb. Credit Author.

The term Sulaliyyat derives from the Arabic root Sulala, which means lineage, stressing patrilinear ancestry. In 2007, the Sulaliyyat organized as a movement under the leadership of the longstanding feminist organization, the Association Democratique des Femmes du Maroc (hereafter, ADFM.) The latter extended its old urban elite-base to mostly unschooled women who are now referencing gender inequality, as racism. The Sulaliyyat are members of ethnic collectivities, jama‘at, representing larger tribal configurations that provide men with exclusive rights to land. At the core of the Sulaliyyat’s mobilization is the colonial dahir (law) of April 27, 1919 regulating access to land by upholding customary practices, ‘urf, which excludes women (see Ait Mous and Berriane, 2016).

I focus on the everyday language that the Sulaliyyat use to articulate their struggle for land rights.  I look at how the semantic of racism permeates women’s perceptions of their condition as an oppressed gender. Expressions like “lmgharba ‘unsuriin” (“Moroccans are racists,”) “Hna unsuriin” (“we are racists,” and “hadha ‘unsuriya” (“this is racism”) are used by ordinary Moroccans to account for unequal access to opportunities and services, poor treatment, and humiliation, enabling the narrators to navigate their emotional charge.  

I focus on Mina, a Sulaliyya from the Gharb, Atlantic Northwest, to show how she mobilizes race in her struggle for land rights. Mina lamented men’s staunched opposition to women’s access to land in connivence with state bureaucrats and land delegates (naib.) “Racism of the past is still here,” she said, “you cannot get anything from these people” (“al unsuriyya d zman mazala hna, matddi menhum walu.”) During our numerous meetings, Mina articulated her experience about sexism, corruption, and patriarchal oppression, as racism. She did not have a name for these interlocking systems of domination, but she perfectly understood how she was situated at their nexus. She was racializing a process that was detached from any proper racial formation. In the Sulaliyyat Movement (hereafter, SM) the term racism indexes this nexus of patriarchal laws, state corruption, and economic exclusion. Race becomes a powerful metaphor that provides gender with political valence, while pointing to the discriminations collectively and individually experienced by women as a marginalized gender.

The Gharb

During the French protectorate the Gharb was part of a bifurcated mapping that divided the geography of colonial intervention into useful (productive) Morocco, composed of priority zones for capitalist development, including Morocco coastal cities and plains, and useless (unproductive) defining zones of pacification without development, referring to Morocco’s mountains, oases, and deserts. The Gharb hosts one of the most fertile plains and marshland at the bank of the Sebou River, also named the Sebou Basin, situated between the cities of Fes, Meknes, and Rabat, in the Northwest, and bordering the Atlantic Ocean. As useful Morocco, the Gharb endured one of the earliest colonial campaigns of land privatization (Mehdi, 2014) before becoming the laboratory for the postcolonial agricultural reforms (Hamdash, 2015, Le Coz, 1964), irrigation projects, land grab, and more recently, land titling, or melkization, in a pilot program supervised by the US Millennium Challenge Corporation (see Balgley, 2019). Under neoliberal policies during the 1990s, the Gharb became a key pole of attraction for cheap and fundamentally female labor indentured to export-oriented farming and factory work in the new Free Industrial Zone (mantaqa al hurra) in the Atlantic city of Kenitra.  

Land grabs went in full force as the city grew to contain many middle-class civil servants from Rabat, and as large-scale projects including the new Kenitra international Port, and the Ibn Tofeil University Campus, added pressure on collective land (hereafter, CL). As luxury housing erected on the waterfront, touristic resorts, and a Golf course attracted a new category of city inhabitants, land prices skyrocketed around Kenitra, the Gharb’s capital, leaving behind a dispossessed rural population,most predominately women. This intersection of law, dispossession, (un)belonging, and rising subjectivities of rural women as rightsholders, is articulated in their everyday language as hogra, oppression, and racism. Marie Anna Jaimes Gerrero highlighted the importance of land rights for any approach to intersectionality in “indigenisms,” or for indigenous communities. She states that “any feminism that does not address land rights, sovereignty, and the state’s systemic erasure of the cultural practices of native peoples […] is limited in vision and exclusionary in practice” (Jaimes Guerrero, 1997: 101). It was Frantz Fanon who pioneered postcolonial approaches to intersectionality by illustrating how race is not an afterthought, and racism is not a side effect of land grabbing in settler-colonial Algeria, but instead, its founding element and building block (Fanon, 2004).

Colonial Legacy

CL refers to a dominant regime of land tenure in which members of ethnic collectivities hold communal rights over land. CL occupies fifteen million hectares, is home to ten million people, organized under 4563 collectivities, jma’a. CL is claimed by 2.5 million adult men and women who are officially represented by 8500 land delegates (naib.) The collective status of land remains, however, the main obstacle to a full-fledged privatization by the state. Thus, transforming collective land into capital required remodeling the entire social structure on which rural communities rest. More importantly, as many Sulaliyyat claimed, it necessitates addressing the fraught process that obstructs a transparent governance of land by state agents like the qaid, naib, and Sheikh - all agents of the Ministry of Interior in control of law and order in rural collectivities.  

Moroccan Jurist Najib Bouderbala argued that the construction of modernity under French colonial power was contingent upon the destruction of tribal sovereignty through a new centralized administrative and legal regime established under the aforementioned 1919 French dahir.  Provisions of the dahir, upheld “traditional modes of exploitation and usage,” ‘urf, that gave men the upper hand in questions of land exploitation, division, and transfer (Bouderbala, 1996, 146.) The dahir homogenized the diverse modes of tribal organizing grounded in spatial extension, negotiations of borders, and resource distribution, to fix them within ethnic membership, and along patrilineal lines.  It also created a new category of the “foreigner” which defined the right to land exclusively within these ethnic boundaries (Aderghal, and Simenel, 2014). The scope of this article does not authorize for a full discussion of this shift from moving the boundaries of tribal configurations to a reified ethnicity (see Rachik, 2012; Mamdani, 1996). My point is that stabilizing the ‘urf and regulating membership within ethnic affiliation further complicated women’s access to land when they married outside of their tribal membership.  Another French law issued on March 19, 1951, authorized the creation of eminent domain in the peripheries of cities, which legitimated the scope of privatizations taking place across the country, especially in the Gharb. Some of these constraints translated into deep feelings of subjugation, articulated in a language of hogara, oppression, and racism.

It is, thus, no wonder why colonial legality became the target of the Sulaliyyat mobilization. Their persistent demands for the amendment of the 1919 dahir generated several ministerial decrees in addition to a groundbreaking reform that acknowledged women’s rights to collective land in 2021. This right remains, however, contingent upon the women’s residence in the land and investment to capitalize it - all new conditions that opened other sites of struggle for women (and men) who are not prepared to become entrepreneurs or are not residing within their collectivity.

A genealogy of the movement

"ard al aba’e wal ajdad min haq al banat wal aoulad”

“Daughters and sons must enjoy equal rights to ancestral land.’

This slogan became the staple of the SM because it disrupts both the legal and customary framing of land rights, along patrilineal lines. The SM movement first sparked among the Hadada collectivity when women opposed their exclusion from the third round of cash distribution benefiting men. The SM gained popularity when Rkia Bellout, now the movement leading figure, won the 2009 National Women’s Leadership Award, Khmisa , in a large ceremony aired by national television networks.  Bellout was from the Haddada tribal grouping living on the outskirts of Kenitra. During the show she spoke about the Sulaliyyat and their plea seeking land rights. Thousands of women watching the ceremony identified with her cause, and more importantly found an identity as Sulaliyyat, a new name, that defined women as subjects of land rights.  This recognition extended the grassroots base of this movement, as rural women across the country espoused this new identity. All the women I worked with proclaimed ‘I am Sulaliyya.’

Bellout was atypical in many ways.  She earned a bachelor’s degree in political science, was living in Rabat, and had been a civil servant before her retirement. When I met her in 2015, she was a land delegate, naiba, and part of a new political category of women as tribal representatives.  Bellout’s ties with what she called “ancestral land” were intense despite her geographical distance: “Ancestral land was not an abstract category, or a commodity,” as Bellout put it. “It is the location of childhood memories, vacation time and grandparents care.” It also became the destination of her campaigning for land rights, a mobilization she spearheaded in 2004. Bellout’s affiliation with the nationally renowned feminist group, ADFM, propelled her mobilization to a national stage.  

“The ADFM invented the term Sulaliyyat (feminine of Sulali,)” explained Saida Drissi the former president of the ADFM. “There was an abstract discourse about Sulali land and Sulali men that dismissed women,” she said. To her the Sulaliyyat is more than a label or a social movement. It is “a concept and a legal category” that challenged the androgenic discourse about ethnic land by highlighting women as deserving of rights. Ethnic belonging became the mediating site through which gendered citizenship in the modern state is claimed and ownership rights sought.

The term Sulaliyyat embodies these intricate meaning of identity, belonging, labor, and rights.  “I labored my land and want my share in it,” is a powerful refrain used by the Sulaliyyat during marches, press conferences, and rallies.  The Sulaliyyat’s mobilization spawned the rise of a women’s leadership across Morocco’s plains, mountains, and oases, and disrupted the male-centered governing institution triggering profound reforms to the legal status of CL. In November 2007, 792 women from the Haddada tribe received monetary compensations from a left-over fund generated by old transactions involving their tribal land.  Three new Ministerial Circulars followed in 2009, 2010, and 2012 acknowledging women’s right to land and stipulating all listing of rightsholders should be inclusive of women. The Sulaliyyat used these circulars during meetings with state officials, and when speaking with village authorities, who obstinately rejected them. These difficult encounters are frequently described by women as “racist.”

Pedagogies of Land Rights

I first came across this term racism in the context of land rights during one of the ADFM workshop with the Sulaliyyat December 2015. The twenty women summoned to the meeting came from different educational profiles, age categories, and marital status. Some lived in cities, others in villages or shantytowns bordering their CL. They asserted their right to land by grounding their claim in the materiality of labor practices, as women who “took care of aging parents, tended livestock, cultivated land, and provided for brothers attending schools.” During the ADFM workshops the Sulaliyyat spoke about men’s racism as the source of their exclusion from land rights, and practiced the discourse of gender equality, musawat, to advocate for rights before state officials, ‘without crying or begging,’ as they put it. They learned about their rights in the Moroccan constitution and celebrated the main breakthrough their mobilization provoked. Storytelling during workshops was a powerful method to enhance active listening amongst them and create a sense of community and collective identity. These feminist pedagogies formed the backbone of key legal reforms spearheaded by this unique alliance between rural women and an elite urban feminist organization. Hence, in March 2014 a new Ministerial Circular authorized women to become land delegates, naibat, ending decades of men’s monopoly over political representation. Facing covert and overt resistance to this radical transformation of power dynamic by tribal men and state agents, the Ministry of Interior organized a National Symposium from April 4th to 8th in 2014 on “State Land Policy and its Impact on Social and Economic Development.” It was followed by a second on “Land policy” from August 8th to 10th in 2015 marked by the acclaimed Royal Letter enjoining the participants to uphold the “principles of right, equity, and social justice.” The King’s intervention on behalf of a final resolution to the dilemma of CL took a direct tone in his address to the opening of the 10th Parliamentary Session in October 2018. King Mohamed VI underlined the importance of opening CL to investors while encouraging the formation of a rural middle class through tamlik, ownership, by rightsholders. ”

Despite the importance of these developments, Ministerial Circulars did not have the power of a law and created more resistance amongst those meant to enforce them.  Persistent Sulaliyyat mobilization against the 1919 dahir  and the urgency of opening collective land to private investment, birthed the 2019 reform which opened ownership of collective land to all rightsholders, under new conditions of capitalization of land and residence.  How did the Sulaliyyat go through this process? In what language did they cast their mobilization? I witnessed the earliest modes of mobilization with a few women from the Gharb, including a woman I call Mina, whose story I highlight in what follows.

Figure 2 A view from an adobe house from the front Yard in the Gharb. Credit author.


I sat next to Mina in her courtyard at sunset on a cold day in January of 2017. Mina had the habit of checking her registry and counting the number of new women she enlisted as rights holders. Mina is a grandmother who lives in Twazit, 15 miles east of Kenitra. She is short, skinny, and looks ten years older than her estimated age of sixty. She does not have a birth certificate and does not read or write but could count the number of women on her registry, 2750. This number is written in units of 100 to make the count easy. In 2015, Mina created an NGO composed mostly of her family members. Her niece is the secretary, her sister manages finance, and even her eleven-year-old granddaughter, Iman, got involved adding names in the registry since she learned how to write names. The young girl also checked for the missing signatures and national identification numbers, two elements without which a Sulaliyya could not be officially included to the list of rightsholders.  Mina spent part of her time dwelling around women’s homes, encouraging them to get the proper documentation for her listing.  Some had to sneak out to her house to add a signature or even get guidance about how to get an identification card. They had to develop enough courage to face reluctant husbands, sons, and hostile brothers.

I could understand why brothers would fight the movement, but why did the husbands, I asked?  I thought husbands would welcome an extra rent or a new parcel of land. Mina called me naïve before explaining that “if he let his wife get her share from her brother, his own sister(s) will do the same with him, and obviously, he does not want that.”   She continued, “this explains why the men of my tribe cannot stand me, and ally with one another to fight me, and this includes my own brother and cousins.” Since my stay at Mina’s home extended in time, I began to witness the different roles that young Iman played from staying behind to watch the house, feeding the few chickens and even watch over other kids when their mothers are secretly meeting for the cause. “After all she will collect the benefits,” Mina said about her granddaughter’s involvement. “I will no longer be there,” Mina added, as she was projecting her strive for rights to the distant future.  

Mina gained custody of Iman after her mother died giving her birth and her father disappeared, leaving his newborn in the hands of her maternal grandmother. Iman was finishing her last year at the elementary school thanks to a government fund for widows with kids living in precarity.  Since the fund was launched in 2014, Mina has been receiving an allocation of 400 MDH (about $48) per month, and a backpack with school supplies and textbooks.  Applying for this allocation took Mina inside the bureaucratic regime of paperwork and to the gateways of rural and urban institutions. “It was not a waste of time,” she contended, since she had learned how to navigate public institutions, ones she started almost inhabiting as a Sulaliyya.  Mina’s take on sexism, as racism, became entrenched in her daily dwelling through the court system seeking custody rights and allocations. She viewed herself at the crossroads of multiple oppressions as a ‘peasant denigrated’ by the institutions ostensibly serving her as ‘an impoverished widow’ seeking a daily revenue for her survival, and as a Sulaliyya striving for land rights. Mina contested these exclusions by denouncing the racist power configurations enabling them.

Mina’s life story is not fully representative of others I have collected during my six years working on this movement. Many aspects of her life are different including the fact that she does own the 500-meter squares plot in which her adobe house and garden sit.  She owes this to her visionary father who divided part of his estate between his two daughters, as recognition for their lifelong devotion as farmers by his side and as caregivers when he became terminally ill. This is particularly unique since most women I met with across the country, lost access to all family property after their fathers’ death, regardless of their contribution. The luckiest were receiving occasional charity donations from brothers who had appropriated their land.

When Mina was much younger, she worked as a farmer in Spanish-owned, privatized farms in the Gharb, and at the time of my visit she was using her vast network to place younger women as domestic workers in cities, while also leading her NGO, the Association of the Struggling Sulaliyya. Mina was also fighting two separate court cases. A ‘personal one’ against her own brother who appropriated their remaining estate.  She fought it at the court system and within the realm of Islamic inheritance laws. Her second case is “with and for,” the Sulaliyya as she put it, a fight she led as a member of the ADFM.  

Mina is certainly atypical and not only because of the multiple fronts she had opened and the power structures she was navigating. Her case as a Sulaliyya was more complicated, but her determination to win was unshakable. According to ‘urf   Mina is not even a candidate for collective land. Her husband was an ajnabi, a ‘foreigner,’ even though he lived with her on her ancestral land. This restriction does not apply to men, she sarcastically said, ‘unlike us, (the women) they remain the sons of their fathers even when married outside of the collectivity.’   Mina questioned this impediment calling it racist. “Why does this rule apply to women and not to men? Do I cease to be Sulaliyya because I married Ajnabi? Do you understand this racism?” she asked.

I toured with Mina the adobe homes of women in her village - divorcees, widows, and abandoned first wives in charge of toddlers and with no regular income. Less mobile than others who work as wage laborers, they live on wood-burning to produce coal by ‘secretly’ exploiting the old and degenerating colonial vestige of the Eucalyptus Forest surrounding the whole region of Sidi Yahya, the closest town to Mina. When the women and men sneak into the forest to cut wood, their story is one of hide and seek. Their activities are illegal and the guards could look the other way only for a load of already-made coal, adding desperation to destitution for these mostly dispossessed invisible farmers. Obviously, entire villages are under the looming dust when the ovens are operating in open air creating clusters of clouds that cover the villages provoking respiratory difficulties even amongst newborn babies, something I witnessed. It is very hard to claim, it was a secret business. This is what Mina called “a life of weakness” (‘isha dial do‘f,) precarity:  

Here people live in precarity (‘isha dial do’f). Did you see this woman? She is divorced and if she does not burn coal, she will not feed her kids. Who is going to see this woman, feel her pain or listen to her? Who knows she even exists? She is terrified to be caught by the guards or approach her ex-husband who ignores their children. She is a Sulaliyya and could live with dignity on her own land. All the other tribes gave women their rights [an overstatement] except here, because of racism.

In Mina’s racialized analysis, the Sulaliyyat strive for rights does not only shed light on thousands of cases like this divorcee, but also economic opportunities for marginal sectors that thrive in conjunction. She firmly believed that the state could end this suffering with one strike of the pen and she thought that Sulaliyyat dwelling was “good for the economy.” I found this economic analysis fascinating and asked Mina to elaborate. Mina brought her economic sensibility to bear on the question of racism in a class-based structure where the “small is left to control the smallest.” She added, “we are good luck for cab drivers, the tribunal, the bus, and the Public Writer ” (“hna men sa‘ad taxi u lmahkama u lcar ou lkateb l ‘umumi.”)  

Mina stressed economic temporality, embedding a material logic into her temporal thinking when she defined waiting as economy. Javier Auyero’s breathtaking ethnography of a government office in Buenos Aires showed how endless waiting for things to get processed and done, produces “patients of the state” (Auyero, 2012) governed through a normalized endless wait, in what Hull calls the government of paper (Hull, 2012). My definition of the wait as “government of time” (Salime 2019) was challenged by Mina’s much more grounded analysis of the economies that grew around waiting and dwelling. Waiting generates not only subjects of state rule, but also economic opportunities. Entire sectors of activity for village-men thrive at the margins of the formal economy – collective cabs, carriage owners, public writers, and those collecting intelligence as a way to gain access to the state. Mina also gave me a sense of the charges women faced while seeking rights in the long-durée:

We pay the Public Writer from 50 to 200 MDH [$4 to $18] this is more than our weekly earnings. A trip to Sidi Yahya, the closest administrative town, costs 20 MDH in a collective cab, we sometimes collect contributions and send one woman to check on behalf of all. And these [workers] are mostly men. Then there is the state. You pay for stamps, you make copies, they lose them, you do it again, you take multiple trips to the courts, lawyers, the municipality, and even to the Ministry and the ADFM in Rabat [about 35 miles away.] We are a money-making machine for the economy.

This fascinating, poignant economic analysis also connects Mina’s dwelling and waiting to men’s fear to see women in positions of power. “If you gain rights,” she said, “they will no longer cut deals on your behalf,” (“yaklou ala dahrek,”) hinting at the corruption surrounding the illegal transactions on land in connivence with local elites and state agents.  

Mina shared also with me part of her interaction with a naib, highlighting another dimension of the Sulaliyyat’s struggle: the sexualization of their quest and the subtle harassment they sometimes endure during encounters with the village elite:

I went to look for the naib in the café where he sits, when I learned that he is forming a front with my brother against me.   As soon as he saw me, he said: I am not a man if you get a shred of that land. Then he playfully added, ‘you may have me, but you will never have your land.’ I responded, ‘I have no interest in you, and you are already married to two. I just want my land, and I will get it.’

Mina drew on a particular lexicon commonly shared with other women.  It is composed of two intertwined images, hogra, humiliation, and do‘f  economic vulnerability, and precarity. ‘No more hogra,’ (‘baraka min el hogra’) is another slogan used by the Sulaliyyat to highlight these power dynamics.  Anthropologist Abdelmajid Hannoum offered one of the most compelling accounts of the intricate and multifaceted meanings of hogra as a structural condition that works ‘vertically,’ as a mode of government, but works horizontally, I would add that it works as mode of interaction among ordinary citizens in uneven situations of power.  Besides exclusion and oppression, hogra implies according to Hannoum “disdain and condescension” (Hannoum, 2013, 275), which, in my opinion, makes it both an embodied experience and an affective site of identification compelling bodies to revolt. Hogra penetrates the affective fabric of the SM, moving women to the forefront of male-dominated institutions and propelling them to challenge the intricated structures of law, patriarchy, and economic exclusion. Mina described this journey as follows:

It was by coincidence that I got involved in this battle a few years ago. I was preparing some paperwork for Iman’s schooling and went to the office of the qiada.  I found a huge crowd, about one hundred men. I spotted the six naib (land delegates) representing our tribe, Twazit, and two women from my village. Puzzled, I approached a man who explained that the makhzen (state) took its hands off the Twazit land. I nailed myself to the floor and decided to wait with the crowd. Intrigued by the presence of these two women, I asked the man [about them.] With a sarcastic smile on his face, the man responded, your naib asked them to testify that women do not want their share. I walked straight to the two women and said, ‘if you dare open your mouth, I will spread the word.’ When the qaid convened people to the meeting room, the two women had already left, taking my threat seriously, but I walked in. As soon as the qaid opened the meeting he announced that the Ministry of Interior is handing Twazit tribal land  back, under the condition that both men and women get equal shares. He launched a seism in the room. As the men started to agitate and the qaid started to suggest ideas about how the land could be divided or used, I collected all my things and stood up. I said, ‘sa‘adat el qaid (sir), can I speak?’ I was the only woman in a room full of men. I said, ‘here we lead vulnerable lives,’ (‘ayshin isha dial do’f.) Women leave their homes at 3 am every day to work in farms five hours away. Barking dogs announce their departure in the middle of the night and arrival after 10 pm every day. Some have endured a lifetime of disability because of traffic accidents while being packed like animals on trucks. We are living a life of do’f. In the forest, the guards chase you, when you seek rights men harass you, if you want to farm, no land is available to you. Our children spend the day unattended. Widows, divorcees, and unmarried women seek their daily bread outside, while our land sits idle. Our land is affectionate, hnina, whatever you give her, she will yield, why would we sell it or divide it? We have 750 hectares, offering multiple possibilities- farming, ranchland, forestry, sand quarries, and water sources. If we divide it how many square meters would each one of us get? Let’s say I want to plant vegetables, but my neighbor wants eucalyptus, how is that going to work? We do not want to sell the land or divide it. We want to lease the land for a project supervised by lmakhzen (state), it will provide jobs and generate revenue. We will grow strawberries, avocados, and do better than the Spanish (investors), because we know this land, and we have learned the new methods of farming.  If we lease this land for projects supervised by the state, we will be working here and living off it. We will be keeping the youth in their villages and will help those who cannot work from the rent we generate.  Women could work while still tending to the needs of their kids, instead of leaving them behind with a seven-year-old sibling.

She added that someone was putting down everything she said while the qaid that she described as an “exceptional human being” was “nodding his head validating everything.” However, a few months later, when she joined the ADFM and understood the value of written documents, she failed to get that meeting’s minutes from the qiada, which was under a new qaid. “The right for information is constitutional,” she said. But, she also knew that men’s “racism with women” precluded the implementation of state laws.

Mina’s powerful advocacy highlights a critical dimension of this struggle relating to the alternative economies that the Sulaliyyat imagine and value. If the traction of the new market economy is not to be dismissed, alternatives to full privatization still live in the hearts and minds of some collectivities, something I have witnessed throughout Morocco (see also Kadri and Er-Rayhany, 2016). Mina’s dream about a state-supervised project of investment that creates work and generates rent is not naïve socialism. She is very strategic in her search for an equal chance for “the weak, the marginal, the child, and the woman” while firmly believing that “men’s racism with women will only end when the state imposes order.” She is well-aware of the predatory techniques used by “those in power to trim CL from all sides” leaving nothing to the da‘if, the powerless, thus she holds the state responsible for properly addressing this by protecting the collective. When I visited in summer 2018, land was still “sitting there,” Mina said, “men do not endorse our rights, and we reject their listing of rightsholders that does not include women, so let it sit.”


What work does the reference to race do in the Sulaliyyat’s articulation of their struggle?  I called race an index to other matters, including sexism, predation, and hogra. Mina’s reference to race undeniably collapses multiple temporalities and spaces of domination. In her articulation of discrimination and exclusion as racism, Mina invites the colonial categories that completely erased women as farmers. Her take on exclusion as d‘of  (precarity/vulnerability) recalls the racialized technologies of colonial capitalism and the postcolonial policies that dismissed women as farmers to include them only as wage labor in privatized farms. In colonial writing women remained the invisible labor destined to domesticity. They were sexualized in the reproduction of men’s labor force in domestic spaces, as well as in sexualized industrialized zones in cities (Mathieu and Maury, 2013).  Fanon’s take on colonial land policy is informative of how the postcolonial state and its nationalist elites dealt with the peasants (men, in Fanon’s perception) as a lumpen proletariat destined to vanish under the nation-state’s modernization project. A most modern version of this now transforms the lumpen proletariat into entrepreneurs on small parcel of divided land, competing with privatized industrial farms suffocating them. By using ‘racism’ Mina put these multiple temporalities, colonial, postcolonial and neoliberal, on a continuum. Like hogra, the term racism enables her to index all the other matters related to being a woman, a dispossessed farmer, and a potential entrepreneur.  


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[1] Link to the lecture can be found at

[2] She was giventhe award along with two other Sulaliyyat. See al-itihad al-ishtiraki,06-10-2009.

[3] See thearticle at.

[4] The August 9th, 2019 law (62-17)implementing the Royal dahir (1.19.115) does not include ranchland andland situated in Irrigated Zones.

[5] “PublicWriter” is the person who has some elementary or advanced legal training andwho drafts official letters and complaints for people who do not write and read.

[6] ManySulaliyyat testified that the café is the office by default where naibsand qaids break deals and sign papers.

[7] A woman, Zinebel-Adoui, appointed wali, governor, of the Gharb-Chrarda Beni Hssen region in January 2014 was credited for accelerating this move.