Morocco: Migration and Transnational Identity

Key Features

Meeting with Moroccan immigrants in Amsterdam

The Migration and Transnational Identity program examines the multifaceted factors — including historical, economic, political, and cultural forces — spurring migration, with a particular focus on Morocco.

Learning in Rabat's Historic Medina
The program is located at the Center for Cross Cultural Learning, housed in a beautiful, nineteenth-century Moorish style riad in Rabat's centuries-old medina. Rabat's medina dates back to the sixteenth century when it was founded by Moorish refugees fleeing Spain after the fall of Granada. The Center is ideally situated near important cultural sites students often wish to explore, including the twelfth-century Kasbah Oudayas and the Ville Nouvelle, established by the French colonial administration at the beginning of the twentieth century.

From the program base in Rabat, students begin thematic coursework, intensive language instruction in both Modern Standard Arabic and 15 hours of Moroccan dialect, and the Research Methods and Ethics course. Cultural immersion is greatly facilitated through a seven-week homestay with a working- or middle-class Moroccan family.

Meeting with Moroccan Immigrants in the Netherlands
During the program’s excursion to the Netherlands, students meet with Moroccan immigrants and learn firsthand about various patterns of integration and marginalization. The excursion features lectures by local academics, NGO activists, and second-generation Moroccan/Dutch elected officials.

The excursion is also an opportunity to revisit many of the conceptual topics and theoretical discussions explored in the classroom, including immigrants and Islam in Europe, the perception of Moroccan immigrants in the Netherlands, the role of NGOs in the promotion of human rights for immigrants, and immigrant youth and identity.

Exploring the Rif Region in Northeast Morocco
Students travel as a group across the north of Morocco to the cities of Al Hoceima and Berkane, the village of Beni Boufrah, and the border town Nador. Shortly before flying to Amsterdam, students see firsthand many of the conceptual topics and theoretical discussions explored in the classroom, including the cross-border labor force and Morocco-EU relations.

Since most Moroccan migrants in the Netherlands come from the northeast of Morocco, students gain a better sense of the socioeconomic and cultural environment these migrants originally come from. While learning about these migrants’ daily lives before crossing the Mediterranean, students can have a multi-sited learning experience that includes the sending and the host migration countries.

Discussions with Moroccan University Students
The program convenes regular discussion groups between SIT students and Moroccan university students at both Mohammed V University in Rabat and Iben Tofail University in Kenitra. Held both in and outside of the classroom, these discussions are an excellent opportunity to engage in cross-cultural dialogue with Moroccan youth.

Topics for discussion may include youth and migration, gender issues, religion, human rights, and the influence of Europe. SIT students have the opportunity to attend lectures at Mohammed V University with their Moroccan peers, while Moroccan students are invited to attend select lectures and field visits organized by SIT. 

Visit to the Moroccan Advisory Council on migration

Independent Study Project
Students work closely with their academic director and an advisor to design an Independent Study Project (ISP) on a topic that pertains to migration, mobility, or transnational identity. The ISP provides each student with an opportunity to pursue original research on a specific aspect of migration that pertains to the student’s academic interests or personal inclination. The ISP is conducted in Rabat or in another approved location in Morocco appropriate to the project.

Sample topic areas for the ISP include:

  • Transnational dimensions of Sufi Islam
  • Migrant images in Moroccan media
  • Youth and emigration
  • Causes and consequences of clandestine migration
  • Sub-Saharan immigrants and their integration in Moroccan society
  • European immigration laws and their impact on migration trends in Morocco
  • Migration and its impact on those who stay behind
  • Migrant remittances and local development
  • Life narratives of migrants
  • Migration and youth protest movements
  • Sub-Saharan migration and access to healthcare
  • Culture of migration in rural Morocco
  • European  economic crisis and return migration
  • Moroccan diaspora in Europe and modernization policies in Morocco
  • Sub-Saharan migrants’ labor rights in Morocco
  • Female sub-Saharan activism in Rabat

Costs Dates

Credits: 16

Duration: 15 weeks

Program Base: Rabat

Language Study: Arabic

Prerequisites: None; however, students with a background in French or Spanish will have opportunities for French/Spanish language practice while also learning Arabic. Read more...

View Student Evaluations for this program:

About the Evaluations (PDF)

Fall 2013 Evaluations (PDF)
Spring 2013 Evaluations (PDF)
Fall 2012 Evaluations (PDF)

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