Globalizing Morocco: Transnational Activism and the Postcolonial State

Globalizing Morocco: Transnational Activism and the Postcolonial State

by David Stenner

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Overview

The end of World War II heralded a new global order. Decolonization swept the world and the United Nations, founded in 1945, came to embody the hopes of the world's colonized people as an instrument of freedom. North Africa became a particularly contested region and events there reverberated around the world. In Morocco, the emerging nationalist movement developed social networks that spanned three continents and engaged supporters from CIA agents, British journalists, and Asian diplomats to a Coca-Cola manager and a former First Lady. Globalizing Morocco traces how these networks helped the nationalists achieve independence—and then enabled the establishment of an authoritarian monarchy that persists today.

David Stenner tells the story of the Moroccan activists who managed to sway world opinion against the French and Spanish colonial authorities to gain independence, and in so doing illustrates how they contributed to the formation of international relations during the early Cold War. Looking at post-1945 world politics from the Moroccan vantage point, we can see fissures in the global order that allowed the peoples of Africa and Asia to influence a hierarchical system whose main purpose had been to keep them at the bottom. In the process, these anticolonial networks created an influential new model for transnational activism that remains relevant still to contemporary struggles.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781503608993
Publisher: Stanford University Press
Publication date: 05/14/2019
Pages: 312
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x (d)

About the Author

David Stenner is Assistant Professor of History at Christopher Newport University.

Table of Contents

Contents and Abstracts

Introduction: Networked Anticolonial Activism
chapter abstract

This chapter introduces the reader to the history of colonial Morocco and the nationalist movement before engaging with the scholarship on decolonization and the early Cold War. It specifically explores the following issues: How did the Moroccan nationalists successfully internationalize their call for an independent constitutional monarchy? How did they communicate their message abroad? What role did their transnational activism have on the process of state-formation following the end of the French and Spanish protectorates in 1956? In order to answer these questions, the chapter engages with social network analysis to demonstrate how Sultan Mohamed ben Youssef managed to weaken the political opposition after independence by co-opting the central players behind their international anticolonial campaign. The monarch thereby obtained the pivotal social and human capital necessary to secure the hegemony of the Alaoui royal family.

1Tangier: Gateway to the World
chapter abstract

This chapter describes how the Moroccans made Tangier the central hub of their transnational advocacy campaign. In April 1951, the country's four anticolonial parties signed the National Pact to coordinate their activities on the exterior. Benefiting from the international city's unique legal status, they facilitated the flow of information and resources between the two protectorates and their propaganda offices abroad. Several US businessmen and the American Federation of Labor supported their activities against the explicit will of the US State Department. Moreover, the Moroccans recruited a couple of English journalists visiting the northern port city and thereby managed to bring their message to the Anglophone world.

2Cairo: The Search for Arab Solidarity
chapter abstract

This chapter deals with the first Moroccan delegates to the Arab League in 1946, who eventually cofounded the Office of the Arab Maghrib together with activists from Algeria and Tunisia. Despite several setbacks, the North African nationalists achieved a series of impressive publicity successes that attracted the attention of the Islamic world at a time when most Arabs remained predominantly concerned with the issue of Palestine. But their campaign came to an abrupt halt when the Free Officers overthrew the Egyptian monarchy in July 1952 and established a revolutionary republic. Despite its public embrace of Pan-Arabism, the new regime undermined the Moroccan nationalists' activities in the Middle East by destabilizing their local network of supporters. The Arab League thus failed to provide substantive diplomatic support to the Moroccan campaign for independence.

3Paris: Conquering the Metropole
chapter abstract

This chapter describes the nationalist propaganda activities in Paris following World War II. Organized around the Bureau du Parti de l'Istiqlal and supported by the large local community of Moroccan workers and students, the nationalists convinced many French elites of their demands. A heterogeneous alliance of both leftist politicians and Catholic intellectuals helped them bring the case of Morocco to public attention in the wake of a massacre committed by French troops in Casablanca in December 1952. The nationalists also lobbied the UN General Assembly, which met in Paris in 1948 and 1951, but without great success. Nonetheless, by the fall of 1955, a majority of delegates in the National Assembly opposed a continuation of the protectorate regime.

4New York: Capital of Diplomacy
chapter abstract

This chapter examines how the nationalist movement sent its first delegate on a temporary assignment to the United Nations in 1947, where he created a large network of contacts in the corridors of the UN building in Lake Placid and drew considerable attention to the Moroccan case. By 1952, the anticolonial activists finally opened their permanent bureau, the Moroccan Office of Information and Documentation, in New York. Supported by their British mentor Rom Landau, they lobbied the American public and politicians as well as the diplomatic delegations to the UN through personal contacts and an elaborate media campaign. Deeply worried by these achievements, France conducted counterpropaganda to undermine their efforts. Although neither the Truman nor the Eisenhower administration openly embraced their demands, the Moroccans' activism in the United States put great international pressure on the government in Paris.

5Rabat: The Homecoming
chapter abstract

This chapter deals with the process of state-formation after independence in 1956, which culminated in a power struggle between the royal palace and the Istiqlal Party. The now-king Mohamed V managed to co-opt the central nodes of the nationalist movement's transnational network of supporters by recruiting many of its members to work for the royal palace or sending them abroad as ambassadors. He thereby increased the social capital at his disposal while simultaneously weakening the Istiqlal. Even the nationalists' foreign associates now publicly embraced the monarch and thus legitimized his status. His successful state visit to the United States in November 1957 symbolized the triumph of the king, who had replaced the nationalist movement as the sole representative of the Moroccan nation.

Conclusion: Decolonization Reconsidered
chapter abstract

The conclusion discusses the larger insights gained from studying the history of the Moroccan liberation struggle. It reevaluates the process of decolonization by looking at the continuities between the colonial era and the postcolonial state. Moreover, it emphasizes the important roles played by nonstate actors in the making of the post-1945 international order despite the constraints imposed on them by the binary logic of the Cold War. Finally, it demonstrates that the pro-Western foreign policy pursued by the Moroccans after 1956 resulted from the nationalist movement's global campaign for independence. The legacy of the propaganda offices in New York, Cairo, and Paris thus continues to shape the North African kingdom today.

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