Northwestern Events Calendar


The Quotidian Politics of Agrarian Rurality in Morocco — Karen Rignall

When: Monday, May 14, 2018
12:00 PM - 1:30 PM CT

Audience: Faculty/Staff - Student - Post Docs/Docs - Graduate Students

Cost: Free

Contact: Danny Postel  

Group: Middle East and North African Studies

Category: Lectures & Meetings


This talk will explore what the experience of commoning in a Moroccan oasis might tell us about land, politics, and the future of farming in the Middle East and North Africa. Karen Rignall will situate Moroccan rurality in larger debates about the contemporary agrarian question: how small farmers fit into increasingly fractured agri-food systems as new labor and capital flows transform the “global rural.” In the Mgoun Valley of southern Morocco, small farmers and other rural residents in the southeastern Moroccan oases have used their engagement with global markets to invest new resources and meaning in their rural roots. They sustain the vibrancy of rural life through creative and often fraught efforts to reimagine commoning—communal governance of land and social life—as a basis for agrarian livelihoods.

Karen Rignall is a cultural anthropologist and assistant professor in the Community and Leadership Development Department at the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food and Environment. Her research addresses agrarian transformation, land tenure, rural politics, and environmental change, especially in the oasis valleys of southeast Morocco. Her ethnographic fieldwork traces shifting agro-ecologies and the collective dimensions of land conflict to interrogate the complexities of property and economy in the context of environmental change and immersion in global labor markets. Her recent research explores the transformation of landscapes and rural politics through renewable energy and other forms of resource extraction throughout Morocco and in the Appalachian region of the US.

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