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Title: Ephemeral institutions : practical anarchy in the Moroccan High Atlas
Author: Carey, M. A.
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2007
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Based on fieldwork in a remote region of Morocco’s Central High Atlas Mountains, this thesis is an attempt to portray the changing face of rural Moroccan political life. It takes a determinedly localist perspective – looking at wider politics from the point of the view of a small village and looking above all at local political practice. Its central contention is that the idea of the “Institution” as a durable and partially predictable set of mechanisms and ideas, and which is so fundamental to political anthropology, is not a relevant framework for understanding local politics. Instead it proposes the idea of “ephemeral institutions”; political bodies that periodically emerge from the shifting contours of social relations and which exist only in reference to the particular context that calls them into being. Part I of the thesis charts the changing dynamics of village life in the period since independence and uses this as a means of discussing the shifting relationships between state institutions and local political practice. Part II explores local conceptions of what it means to be a man in the village context, placing these alongside wider anthropological debates about hierarchy and equality, as well as autonomy and unity, in so-called “tribal” societies. It suggests that the particular ways in which local men enact their manhood can be seen as militating against the formation of long-term local institutions. Part III moves on to look at ephemeral institutions themselves. It takes instances of conflict and cooperation in the area and shows how people make use of different social networks to create and mould political responses adapted to suit the needs of the situation at hand. Finally, Part III looks at challenges to prevailing ways of arranging political life. It describes how people adopt practices that they associate with the state, such as the clientelistic organisation of public projects, and use these as a means of creating new forms of institutional arrangement.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available