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Title: Small places, large issues : identity, morality and the underworld at the Spanish-Moroccan frontier of Melilla
Author: Soto Bermant, Laia
ISNI:       0000 0004 2735 0772
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2012
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Situated on the north-eastern coast of Morocco, the Spanish enclave of Melilla is a paradigmatic case of an unusual yet increasingly common kind of community. These are small, rather isolated communities with no industry or natural resources of their own, which rely heavily on capital and labour drawn from outside. Together with Ceuta, Melilla is one of the two only land borders between Europe and Africa. The enclave’s economic and political set up reflects its geopolitical importance. Across the border from Melilla lies the Moroccan province of Nador, home to one of the largest communities of Moroccan emigrants in Europe and a steady source of unskilled labour on which the Spanish enclave relies. Connections across the border are strong, including kinship links, employment networks and a wide range of both legal and illegal commercial transactions. Based on twelve months of fieldwork conducted on both sides of the border, this thesis departs from prevailing images of the borderland as either an abstract space of ‘creolisation’ and ‘hybridity’ or a locus of resistance to state power, and suggests, instead, that we carefully consider the large-scale political and economic processes through which places like Melilla and Nador are produced, and analyse the ways in which such global structures shape local reality. A fundamental aim of the thesis, therefore, is to elucidate the nature of the relations between space, place and capital at the Spanish-Moroccan frontier, and understand how such relations affect the lives of those who inhabit the region. This involves thinking about the language of a ‘community’ and the discourses and practices of morality that sustain it; analysing discourses of ‘us’ vs. ‘them’ in contexts of institutionalised economic inequality; and understanding local conceptions of identity, morality and legitimacy, and how the three interact.
Supervisor: Dresch, Paul ; Parkin, Robert Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Anthropology ; Transnationalism ; Social anthropology ; Melilla ; Nador ; Rif ; borderland ; smuggling ; identity ; morality ; informal economy