Workshop: The socio (legal) study of migration in Morocco
Hosted at the Netherlands Institute in Morocco (NIMAR), 20 junior and senior empirical researchers who all work on migration in Morocco came together to discuss two important topics that are frequently neglected in migration scholarship. The researchers were from different nationalities and affiliated to Moroccan, Dutch and German universities.
On the first day, participants paid attention to the intricacies of the research process. How do you conduct empirical fieldwork? How do you engage with vulnerable populations? Are their standards for how one should deal with financial and emotional requests for help? And how do you react in situations of domestic violence? How do you find respondents in times of a pandemic? How do you gain trust and what do you when trust is betrayed? Do pregnancy and empirical fieldwork go together? In short, what methodological and ethical challenges do researchers encounter before, during, and after their fieldwork, and why is there so little academic attention for these challenges that clearly impact our collection of data? The lively and at times heated and emotional discussions made it clear that there is a dire need among researchers to discuss the intricacies of doing empirical fieldwork on migration in Morocco, and this applied to both scholars at the MA and PhD level, as well as to those at more advanced stages in their careers. A notable observation was that in working towards an ethical programme for migration research, both morality and legality play an important role.
In migration studies, the focus usually is on global South- global North movements. As South-South migration constitutes a significant part of global movement, an important part of empirical reality remains understudied. Hence, the second day was reserved for the presentation of research findings dealing with South-South migration. All participants work on qualitative sociological and socio-legal topics related to migrants residing in Morocco, such as the integration of sub-Saharan African children in the Moroccan school system and the socio-economic integration of Senegalese female traders in Casablanca.
Other participants presented findings on the ways in which migrants in Morocco deal with the formal and informal aspects of major life events (e.g. marriage, birth) and how migration often becomes a journey within and beyond oneself. While most presentations focused on sub Saharan Africans in Morocco, there was also attention for the well-being of Syrian refugees Syrian Refugees after the 2014 regularisation programme and the way South-Asian migrants deal with formal and informal aspects of marriage and birth.
The findings of a systematic literature review on migration in Morocco made it clear that while the dominant focus in empirical research on migration in Morocco is on sub-Saharan Africans, there is growing scholarly interest for other groups, such as the experiences of European migrants in Morocco.
The workshop forms part of the research project “Living on the Other Side: A Multidisciplinary Analysis of Migration and Family Law in Morocco” and is financed by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO). The research project is embedded at the Van Vollenhoven Institute for Law, Governance and Society, Leiden Law School, Leiden University, The Netherlands, and is carried out in close cooperation with the department of sociology, Moulay Ismail University, Meknes, Morocco.