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Creative State

Creative State: Forty Years of Migration and Development Policy in Morocco and Mexico

Natasha Iskander
Copyright Date: 2010
Edition: 1
Published by: Cornell University Press,
Pages: 392
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  • Book Info
    Creative State
    Book Description:

    At the turn of the twenty-first century, with the amount of money emigrants sent home soaring to new highs, governments around the world began searching for ways to capitalize on emigration for economic growth, and they looked to nations that already had policies in place. Morocco and Mexico featured prominently as sources of "best practices" in this area, with tailor-made financial instruments that brought migrants into the banking system, captured remittances for national development projects, fostered partnerships with emigrants for infrastructure design and provision, hosted transnational forums for development planning, and emboldened cross-border political lobbies.

    In Creative State, Natasha Iskander chronicles how these innovative policies emerged and evolved over forty years. She reveals that the Moroccan and Mexican policies emulated as models of excellence were not initially devised to link emigration to development, but rather were deployed to strengthen both governments' domestic hold on power. The process of policy design, however, was so iterative and improvisational that neither the governments nor their migrant constituencies ever predicted, much less intended, the ways the new initiatives would gradually but fundamentally redefine nationhood, development, and citizenship. Morocco's and Mexico's experiences with migration and development policy demonstrate that far from being a prosaic institution resistant to change, the state can be a remarkable site of creativity, an essential but often overlooked component of good governance.

    eISBN: 978-0-8014-6224-5
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. List of Acronyms
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  5. Maps
    (pp. xv-xvii)
  6. Timeline
    (pp. xviii-xxii)
  7. 1 Introduction: Interpretive Engagement in Morocco and Mexico
    (pp. 1-26)

    In late August of 1989, a Spanish immigration officer observed the crush of Moroccans returning to Europe by ferry from Tangier at the end of their summer vacations. “Morocco is becoming to Spain what Mexico is to the United States,” he complained (as quoted in Riding 1989). For decades, Moroccan migrants had pushed on through to Europe’s wealthier countries, but as Spain’s economy started to expand, Moroccans began to stay and fill the growing demand for cheap labor. They took the same kinds of menial jobs in Spain’s fields, factories, restaurants, and homes that they had worked in for more...

  8. 2 Discretionary State Seeing: Emigration Policy in Morocco and Mexico until 1963
    (pp. 27-59)

    The year 1963 marked a turning point in the emigration policies of both Morocco and Mexico. That year, Morocco began concluding a battery of guest worker agreements with European nations. With the ratification of the labor export conventions, the Moroccan state departed from the haphazard approach that had characterized its administration of worker emigration since independence in 1956 and embarked on an ambitious program of state-managed labor export. Mexico, by contrast, saw its participation in the largest guest worker program in history end in 1963. When the United States discontinued its massive recruitment of Mexican workers for agribusiness after twenty...

  9. 3 Reaching Out: Beginning a Conversation with Moroccan Emigrants, 1963–1973
    (pp. 60-85)

    In 1963, Morocco began ratifying migrant worker agreements with several European countries and soon began exporting labor en masse. To send labor, however, the Moroccan state first had to produce it. In conjunction with European labor recruiters, it set about transforming largely non-Arab Berber peasants who were firmly rooted in their communities into Moroccan workers for export. Drawing heavily on areas that presented the twin challenges of high unemployment and political opposition to the king’s often tenuous but brutal rule, the state divorced landless peasants from their communities and remade them into a homogenized migrant workforce. Workers selected to man...

  10. 4 Relational Awareness and Controlling Relationships: Moroccan State Engagement with Moroccan Emigrants, 1974–1990
    (pp. 86-117)

    On July 4, 1974, the French government announced that in order to preserve employment for French workers during the recession that was looming, foreign workers would no longer be allowed into the country. André Postel-Vinay, head of the newly created Secretariat for Immigrant Affairs, specified that the ban would remain in place until October, “when the situation will be reviewed” (as quoted in New York Times 1974). By October, however, France was reporting its highest level of joblessness since the end of World War II, and unions were staging strikes and demonstrations as determined as anything the nation had ever...

  11. 5 Practice and Power: Emigrants and Development in the Moroccan Souss
    (pp. 118-156)

    Morocco’s development strategy from the mid-1960s onward reflected a cynical economic and political cartography which carved out le Maroc utile—the useful Morocco—of the kingdom’s littoral cities from the rest of the country. Initially drafted by the French colonialists, this exclusionary map was embraced by Moroccan policymakers, who favored industrial projects in burgeoning urban areas and large agribusiness outfits in the fertile plains of the central north, and directed any resources left over after military expenditures for the border skirmish with Algeria and later Western Sahara to these endeavors. The jagged Atlas Mountain chains running in parallel across the...

  12. 6 Process as Resource: Two Kings and the Politics of Rural Development
    (pp. 157-191)

    In the late 1980s, the approach Morocco had used to engage with emigrants for more than two de cades began to fail. The government’s treatment of emigrant workers as a commodity began to alienate Moroccans abroad, crushing their increasingly tenuous connection to their country, and emigrants and their families began to view Europe as their home. In 1987, for the first time since Morocco had begun its labor export program in 1963, remittances stopped rising steadily, and they dipped worryingly the following year. The share of national deposits represented by emigrants’ accounts in the BCP began declining in 1988, a...

  13. 7 The Reluctant Conversationalist: The Mexican Government’s Discontinuous Engagement with Mexican Americans, 1968–2000
    (pp. 192-235)

    With the end of the bracero program in 1964, the Mexican government was finally relieved of the task of managing the emigration of its workers. The termination of the labor export protocols and the formal closure of the United States to all but a trickle of Mexican labor had little effect on the actual number of Mexican workers who crossed the border. Emigration not only continued apace, but it accelerated dramatically as the migration networks and the structural dependence of U.S. production on cheap labor became more entrenched (Piore 1979). Instead of the flow of workers being documented with the...

  14. 8 From Interpretation to Political Movement: State-Migrant Engagement in Zacatecas
    (pp. 236-273)

    From the sexenios of Echeverría through de la Madrid, from 1970 to 1988, the Mexican federal government had established a consistent pattern of engagement with Mexican Americans and Mexican migrants. Successive administrations courted Chicano groups and leaders with decided ambivalence, engaging them when closer ties seemed to be in Mexico’s national interests and rebuffing them when that engagement produced challenges to PRI hegemony. Mexican migrants, meanwhile, were kept at a firm distance. Studied extensively, they were objectified and unceremoniously excluded from the political discussions over their status.

    At the state level, though, a distinct pattern of engagement with migrants began...

  15. 9 The Relationship between “Seeing” and “Interpreting”: The Mexican Government’s Interpretive Engagement with Mexican Migrants
    (pp. 274-304)

    Shortly after 11:00 p.m. on July 2, 2000, Mexican president Ernesto Zedillo announced: “The next president of Mexico will be Vicente Fox Quesada” (as quoted in Preston 2000). With this terse statement, Zedillo conceded that his party, the PRI, had lost the presidency for the first time since its creation in 1929. The PRI’s seventy-one-year vise on power had finally been loosed. Fox supporters streamed into the streets of Mexico City, chanting “Vicente Presidente!” and serenading the president-elect with boisterous renditions of “Las Mañanitas,” a traditional Mexican song in praise of birthdays and new beginnings (Collier 2000). Over the coming...

  16. 10 Conclusion: Creating the Creative State
    (pp. 305-316)

    At the heart of Moroccan and Mexican migration and development policies is a paradox. The governments that created these effective policies linking emigration to grassroots development had never intended to do so, and in the end these policies were so effective that they came to be regarded as “best practices” and were emulated around the world. Neither the Moroccan nor the Mexican government had any intention of using migration to advance a strategy of economic change that would include migrants and their communities in such a meaningful way. On the contrary, both governments had neglected the villages and urban neighborhoods...

  17. Appendix: Methodology
    (pp. 317-320)
  18. Notes
    (pp. 321-330)
  19. References
    (pp. 331-356)
  20. Index
    (pp. 357-368)