A Scientific Initiative on/for Border Abolitionism

Node 06 - Antenna


October 2023 - February 2024

Morocco - Rabat

Exploring Solidarity Spaces in Rabat’s Peripheral Urban Landscape

Rabat serves as the inaugural node in the Morocco Antenna, offering a unique perspective on the interactions between the city and the various mobilities navigating through it.

Introduction: Rabat serves as the inaugural node in the Morocco Antenna, offering a unique perspective on the interactions between the city and the various mobilities navigating through it. The SOLROUTES project aims to study the delicate relationships between the city center and its periphery, with a particular focus on understanding and documenting solidarity in the context of unauthorized movements. This endeavor seeks to redefine and decolonize the concept of solidarity by exploring its manifestations beyond Western academic perspectives.

Objectives: The SOLROUTES project endeavors to observe and analyze the dynamics of solidarity in Rabat, identifying actors, functions, and meanings associated with the materiality of care, support for border-crossing, and hospitality during transit. Researchers aim to investigate the various forms of solidarity practices, discourses, and relational spaces, particularly within the context of Rabat’s role as a hub for mobility and settlement.

Context: Rabat is recognized as a pivotal space for mobility and settlement, where individuals in transit organize stages of “transit migration.” The city becomes a nexus of connections involving governmental actors, international organizations, civil society activists, transnational migrants, and future haraqas. This complex urban environment requires a nuanced understanding of the continuous negotiation and balance between the center and periphery, where survival and resistance strategies are implemented, and solidarity becomes a vital aspect of interdependence.

Case Study: The suburban neighborhood of Takadoum, with its dense sub-Saharan presence, serves as a compelling case study within Rabat. Researchers aim to explore how unauthorized mobility integrates into the urban framework, addressing visibility issues and establishing relationships of interdependence. The study further investigates how various actors, including people on the move, adventurers, settled residents, local communities, care providers, and associations, interact and connect within this dynamic space.

Methodology: The research methodology employs grounded research and multi-sited ethnography, adopting an inductive approach. The presence of the research team in the field will guide the selection of methodological tools and specific research questions, allowing for a comprehensive understanding of the intricate relationships and solidarity dynamics in Rabat’s peripheral urban landscape.

Conclusion: By focusing on Rabat, the SOLROUTES project aims to contribute to a deeper understanding of solidarity beyond conventional Western frameworks. The exploration of relationships between different actors in Takadoum and other areas will shed light on the complexities of unauthorized mobility and its integration into the broader urban fabric.


Staging borders

Generative Narrative Workshop and Cultural Objects

Theater of the Oppressed as a participatory research approach

Theater of the Oppressed (Boal 2004) involves interactive dramaturgical practices that aim to reflect on situations of oppression. It aims to create a performance space in which the perceptions, knowledge, beliefs, practices and behaviors of a group of people gathered at a particular time and place around a topic under research are brought to light. Reflecting on the power dynamics present at various levels, Theatre of the Oppressed proposes to actively think about practices of denunciation, resistance to oppression, and thus proposals for emancipation: proposing the figuration of scenes of social injustice suggests the citizen to “not adapt” but to “transform” it (Ibid.).

Among the dramaturgical practices there are Forum Theater and Image Theater. The broad structure of the Forum Theater involves the performance of skits portraying a concrete situation related to a chosen theme that concerns the sphere of everyday life and contains power dynamics in its core. In Image Theater, participants quickly sculpt their own bodies or those of others to express attitudes and emotions. These images are then juxtaposed and “energized” or brought to life. In both practices, dynamic intervention by outsiders is required: the scene is then replayed with the audience invited to intervene, replace actors, ask questions, changing actions or speech. The scene is re-enacted by encouraging different unfoldings, interpretations that come to propose an active intervention in the dynamics of oppression.

As dramatic exploration takes place, audience members can make connections to their own experiences – that are experiences of oppression (internal or external). The dramatic and performative presentation of phenomena and problems can introduce alternative perspectives and ways of thinking, where different experiences are brought into dialogue in the face of an overwhelming problem and situation. On stage, therefore, a continuous process of negotiation takes place, where participants offer personal viewpoints, perceptions and interpretations: a space is created in which we observe how identities are “constructed, communicated, authorized and contested” (Kaptani et al. 2017).

The use of theatrical techniques initiates group dynamics that proposes a collective search for ways to intervene in oppressive situations and social injustice. By translating individual experiences into theater and reflecting on them throught artistic methods, both actors and audience can creatively transform the unfolding of the scene in many ways, thus becoming “spect-actors” (Boal 1996) – the process of emancipation begins in the attempt to change representations, in these identities that are encountered we observe how they are linked to particular forms of social action (Kaptani et al. 2017). This interactive performance process can be understood as a collective brainstorming and research process that is shared and experienced by many people (Wrentschur 2021). The results of this process can generate various forms of action outside the performance – in a path of collective empowerment. In this space, issues that can be difficult to talk about are addressed; it becomes a tool for reporting daily experiences of violence, marginalization that are difficult to verbalize (Maggie et al. 2018).

The theatrical experience stimulates participants’ imaginative ability (Wrentschur 2021), proposing the development of symbols, narratives, new imaginaries. In this sense, Forum Theater can be seen as a dramatic and participatory research approach, in which dialogue, sharing, negotiation and association bring forth new imaginaries and new narratives of them. In this space, the category between researcher and researched breaks down, research becomes collective and marginalized people become co-producers of knowledge (Liamputtong 2007).

M. Lovato

Generative Narrative Workshops Report

Node Report – Morocco Antenna

Cultural Object: Staging borders – Postcards from Taqadoum


C. Cassarini, M. Lovato
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