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Invisible infrastructures of care and control: Migrant women’s vulnerability and enclosure in Morocco’s humanitarian border

Authors: Leslie Gross-Wyrtzen*, Clark University
Topics: Political Geography
Keywords: borders, humanitarian, EU, Morocco
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Morocco is one of the oldest partners in the European Union’s externalized border program, which enlists third states to stop migrants from reaching European territory. After decades of border militarization, in 2013 King Mohammed VI announced a new, comprehensive migration policy that would respect human rights, prioritize integration of migrants in Moroccan society, and provide a humanitarian model for other countries in the EU’s “neighborhood” to follow. Drawing on ethnographic research, this paper interrogates these claims, arguing instead that the new migration policy expanded the border’s reach throughout the country, enrolling formerly antagonistic actors and institutions (human rights advocates, NGOs, hospitals, and migrants themselves) in infrastructures of care and control. “Humane” policies like providing residency permits and eschewing detention rendered the border less visible even as migrants’ were subject to new forms of surveillance and violence. In addition, the new organization of border governance was most successful in immobilizing and containing West and Central African women, and made them vulnerable to violence and economic exploitation in Moroccan society and within their own communities.

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