Disillusionment in Morocco’s February 20 Movement

Episode 343

with Taieb Belghazi & Abdelhay Moudden
hosted by Graham Cornwell

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How do we assess fizzling protest movements? How do social scientists account for difficult-to-quantify facets of political engagement like emotion and momentum? In this episode, we discuss ihbat, or disillusionment, in the failures of Morocco’s February 20th movement. Part of the Arab Spring movements across the region, the coalition of groups that comprised February 20th rather quickly ground to a halt a few months later. In a major speech in March 2011, King Mohammed VI pledged major reforms, a new constitution, and a new election. In July of that year, Moroccans voted overwhelmingly in favor of stability and “consultation” and approved the new constitution. The euphoria of the early days of the movement subsided and gave way to feelings of ihbat. But disillusionment, as we discuss here, is not as one-dimensional nor permanent as one might think. Taieb Belghazi and Abdelhay Moudden point towards a possible new direction in political science research that uses literary and artistic sources to get at the emotional aspect of political engagement and organization.

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Contributor Bios

Taieb Belghazi is Professor of Cultural Studies at the Faculté des Lettres at Mohammed V University and Academic Director of the SIT Multiculturalism and Human Rights Program in Morocco.
Abdelhay Moudden is Professor of Political Science at Mohammed V University and the co-founder of the Center for Cross Cultural Learning in Rabat.
Graham H. Cornwell is a Ph.D. Candidate in History at Georgetown University. His work examines the history of tea and sugar consumption in Northwest Africa in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. He is also the editor of tajine, a podcast and blog about North African Studies.


Episode No. 343
Release Date: 26 January 2018
Recording Location: Center for Cross-Cultural Learning, Rabat (12/15/2016)
Audio editing by Chris Gratien
Music: Hocine Slaoui – Yal Cahla Special thanks to Kara Güneş for permission to use the composition "Istanbul"
Images and bibliography courtesy of Taieb Belghazi & Abdelhay Moudden

Select Bibliography

Belekziz, A. 2012. al-Haraka (The Movement),  Beirut: Mountada Al Ma'aref.

Belghazi, T. and Moudden, A. 2016. Ihbat: disillusionment and the Arab Spring in Morocco. The Journal of North African Studies 21.1, pp.37-49.

Berrada, M. 2014. Ba'dian Mina Douda', Quariban Mina Ssoukout (Far From Noise, Close To Silence), Casablanca: FENEK.

Ksikes, D. 2013. N'enterrez pas trop vite Big Brother, Pièce de théâtre,(Don’t Bury Too Fast Big Brother), Paris: Riveneuve éditions.

Pearlman, W. 2013. “Emotions and the Micro-foundations of the Arab Uprisings, "Perspectives on Politics,  11, 387-409.

Fillieule, O. 2013.  "Demobilization," in David A. Snow, Donatella dellaPorta, Bert Klandermans, and Doug McAdameds, The Wiley-Blackwell Encyclopaedia of Social and Political Movements, Blackwell, pp. 1-6.

Goodwin, J. James M. Jasper, and Francesca Polletta.  2001.  "Why Emotions Matter," in Leff Goodwin, James M. Jasper, and Francesca Polletta eds.  Passionate Politics: Emotions and Social Movements, Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, pp.1-24.

Taieb Belghazi & Abdelhay Moudden
Center for Cross-Cultural Learning in Rabat, Morocco


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