Once Were Warriors: Colonial Violence and Its Gendered Legacies in Morocco and the Diaspora

Key information

3:15 PM to 5:00 PM
Paul Webley Wing (Senate House)
SOAS Paul Webley Wing (Senate House), Room S113

About this event

Paul Silverstein, Reed College, Dept. of Anthropology

This paper explores the ways in which visions and expectations of martial masculinity underwrite imperial formations and the debris they leave behind.  Drawing on my archival and field research in southeastern Morocco and northern France, I will focus on how the colonial encounter between French military officers and semi-nomadic tribal notables entailed processes of recognition and mimesis and established a model of martial agency with which young men on both sides of the Mediterranean continue to struggle to perform, whether as explicitly political activists or simply disciplined individuals. These gendered dilemmas of performance constrain as much as they enable, and provide insight into some of the ways in which the inequities of colonialism continue to haunt our postcolonial present.

Paul A. Silverstein is Professor of Anthropology at Reed College. He is author of Postcolonial France: Race, Islam and the Future of the Republic (Pluto, 2018) and Algeria in France: Transpolitics, Race, and Nation (Indiana, 2004), and co-editor (with Ussama Makdisi) of Memory and Violence in the Middle East and North Africa (Indiana, 2006). He is currently completing a book on Amazigh/Berber ethno-politics, historical consciousness, and development in southeastern Morocco. His new research focuses on cosmopolitan immigrant labor politics in the former coal mines of northern Europe. He chairs the board of directors of the Middle East Research and Information Project (MERIP).