Outsiders in the Moroccan-Spanish Border Zone: Life Stories of Juveniles in Ceuta and Melilla

Tuesday, 12 July 2016: 16:12
Location: Seminarraum Geschichte 1 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Eva BAHL, Center of Methods in Social Sciences, University of Goettingen, Germany
In this paper I want to explore life stories of Moroccan juveniles in Ceuta and Melilla, Spanish Exclaves in Northern Africa. It is based on my field research in the postcolonial border zone between Morocco and Spain, which is part of my PhD research and embedded in the project “The Social Construction of Border Zones”, funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG).

In recent years, Ceuta and Melilla have received a considerable amount of media attention – mainly because of the high fences that surround them and because of being a “hotspot” of migration towards Europe. But additionally, important transnational movements between the two Spanish cities and the neighboring country Morocco can be observed. Hundreds of unaccompanied minors from Morocco make their way to Ceuta and Melilla each year: young men – most of them between 14 and 17 years old – often flee the Reception Center and try to travel to the Spanish mainland as stowaways. Young women are more likely to work in households. Although their residence permits and protection status expire when they become 18 years old, many of them stay in the border zone after they have reached adulthood.

My empirical project is based on biographical research, which is informed by sociology of knowledge and figurational sociology. I argue that the precarious situation of these Moroccan juveniles and their transnational biographies are constitutive for the Moroccan-Spanish border zone. They are in a complex outsider position within the figurations of Spanish-Christian and Moroccan-Muslim local populations. Drawing on Elias’s concept of established-outsider relations I will discuss the social and discursive practices of marginalization and how (shifting) asymmetrical power balances are interrelated with the construction of belonging and we-images.