When the 'minority' speaks: voices of Amazigh women in Morocco
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Applying an intersectional approach, this thesis examines the value and meaning that minority and indigenous (Amazigh) women in Morocco attribute to human rights and gender equality and, as well, how rights-based claims are articulated in a local context. The thesis examines the complex relationship between feminism and group rights to highlight how the subaltern female Others understand and narrate these concepts as they tell their story. Against the backdrop of their voices, the thesis also questions existing minority groups’ and indigenous peoples’ rights discourses and tools. What emerges from ethnographic research undertaken across Morocco is that these rights-based ‘universal’ toolkits are most often utilised by male, urban, and educated elite to craft a certain narrative, a ‘collective history,’ and an ‘imagined community,’ in order to preserve the status quo and current power distribution. While much of the literature on group rights and multiculturalism focuses on the role of the State vis-à-vis minority and indigenous peoples, the emphasis of this research is the dynamics within groups themselves and how individual members (namely, women) articulate and demand rights within their own communities. Using the thematic analysis method to analyse qualitative data gathered during this research, participants’ narrations and responses reveal that concepts, such as human rights and gender equality, carry widely different meanings for minority and indigenous women and often sit in stark contrast to those promoted by minority and indigenous leaders and sites of power.