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Thursday, 16 January 2020

The Monopoly of Criminal Justice and the Formulation of State-Society Relations in Morocco

EPISODE 82 

The Monopoly of Criminal Justice and the Formulation of State-Society Relations in Morocco 
 

In this podcast, Fatim-Zohra El Malki seeks to retrace the socio-legal history of Morocco’s criminal justice system and its impact on the formulation of state-society relations. El Malki argues that Morocco’s Penal Code (PC) can serve as a useful object of analysis for tracing how the Moroccan state used the criminal system to deepen and consolidate its power following independence. Through the historicization of the criminal system, El Malki aims to center the legal processes that contributed to the territorial construction and consolidation of what is now the Kingdom of Morocco. Rather than focusing on the trajectory of the codes and legal systems, this presentation is an attempt to understand the mechanisms of violence and repression embedded in the legal system across time, of which the penal code is only a fragment. This discussion unravels an enduring paradox: how the makhzen’s deepening authority and territorial expansion created a strong central state at the expense of the progressive alienation of the citizen from the central power. In relation to criminal justice, the makhzen’s monopoly over judicial power placed a chokehold on the sphere of checks and balances between the citizen and the central authority. The PC constitutes a space for the legal expression of political violence perpetrated by the state against society, bearing in mind that the violence of the law is not inevitably illegitimate nor unethical. The unbalanced interplay of power dynamics, which lead to the overwhelming monopoly of violence by the state is what constitutes the core of the argument that places the PC at the center of this space. El Malki argues that reforming the system today would mean transferring the discursive monopoly of violence outside this scope, therefore shaking the safeguarded equilibrium of power that the modern Moroccan state holds.

Fatim-Zohra El Malki is a DPhil student at the University of Oxford. Her research project revolves around the making of the criminal justice system in Morocco, with a particular focus on the Penal Code. Fatim-Zohra El Malki holds master’s degrees in Arab Studies from Georgetown University’s Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service (2016) and in Security Studies from Queen's University of Belfast (2013). 

This podcast is part of the Contemporary Thought series and was recorded on 21 June 2019. at the  Centre d'Études Maghrébines à Tunis (CEMAT).



Download the Podcast:  Feed iTunes / Podbean

We thank Dr. Tamara Turner, Ethnomusicologist and Research Fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development, Center for the History of Emotions, for her interpretation of Natiro/ Ya Joro, from the Hausa repertoire of diwan.

Posted by Hayet Lansari, Librarian, Outreach Coordinator, Content Curator (CEMA).
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Suggested Readings


Ben Saad, Safa. 2014. « Les origines africaines du droit au Maghreb »Confluences Méditerranée, N° 90 (3), 75-83.

Benjamin, Walter. 2019. Reflections: Essays, Aphorisms, Autobiographical Writings. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.

Blomley, Nicholas. 2003. "Law, Property, and the Geography of Violence: The Frontier, the Survey, and the Grid". Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 93 (1), 121-141.


Hart, David. 1998. "The penal code in the customary law of the Swasa of the Moroccan Western Atlas and AntiAtlas". The Journal of North African Studies, 3(4), 55-67.

Hoffman, Katherine. 2010. Berber law by French means. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Le Cour Grandmaison, Olivier. 2005. « L'exception et la règle: sur le droit colonial français ». Diogène, 212(4), 42-64.

Le Cour Grandmaison, Olivier. 2008. Coloniser, exterminer. Paris: Fayard.

Marglin, Jessica. 2016. Across legal lines: Jews and Muslims in Modern Morocco. New Heaven: Yale University Press.

Mebtoul, Mohamed. 2018. Algérie, la citoyenneté impossible? Algiers: Editions Koukou.

Starr, June. and Collier, Jane. 2018. History and Power in the Study of Law. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.

Wedeen, Lisa. 1998. "Acting “As If”: Symbolic Politics and Social Control in Syria". Comparative Studies in Society and History, 40(03), 503-523.

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