In Paul Silversteins essay, he delves into the concepts and contradictions of minority politics. His essay begins with a brief description of King Mohammed VI’s promulgation of a new Moroccan Constitution which identified Morocco as a secular state in which all ethnicities and religions are equal and protected by law. This new constitution which was intended to satisfy previous protests of social injustices still left many questions for Moroccans as to the true degree of secularism in the state. Paul Silverstein uses the term faustian bargain, an agreement in which a person sets a side their own spiritual or moral values in order to obtain wealth or other benefits. In principle, this seems clear enough. My question is however, can a state truly become autonomous of any religious influence. In the ethnographic references which Silverstein provides, there is still some religious leaning in each case. States the claim to be secular, such as the United States are in fact still partly governed by the religion. In the US, Protestant Christian values influence basic political decisions such as the legality of contraception and abortion as well as the aid of fellow citizens. It can hardly go without notice that a non-Christian person has never served as president of the United States. Morocco is heavily populated by Muslims and of course Islam is prominent within the government so can legislation be passed without leaning towards Islamic values. Can other minorities truly be represented?
The article begins by discussing the adoption of a reformed constitution under the regime of King Muhammad VI. Previously, the constitution defined Morocco only as a “sovereign Muslim State”. The reformed constitution however, depicts a Morocco that seeks to look above its borders and religion. This ideal is enforced by allowing “the free exercise of faiths” as well as the protection of the freedoms of speech and cultural practices. I wonder how much influence did the U.S. have in this constitutional reform? The changes that were made all bear a strong resemblance to our own constitution and the rights that we aim to protect as a nation.
In the article, Minority Politics in the Mediterranean World, by Paul Silverstein he talks about how king Mohamed VI of Morocco put into effect a new constitution. This constitution states in Article 3 “Islam to be ‘the religion of the State’ but guarantees to all ‘the free exercise of faiths [cultes]’. Article 5 states that Arabic ‘remains the official language of the State’ but goes on to specify that ‘all the same [de même] Amazigh constitutes an official language of the State, as the common heritage [patrimoine] of all Moroccans without exception.” The wording of the constitution on the other hand might makes it seem like they are all on the same equal “footing”, but ranked them with respectively definite and indefinite articles of “officialness”. Paul Silverstein says it well is this “Real equality or simply a pale reflection thereof?”
Mikaela Rogozen-Soltar in her writing Spain Unmoored brings up religious tolerance in the varying liberal, secular regimes of governance. She also bring up the seperation of recent Muslim converts and migrants. The recent Muslim converts see them selves as “privileged brokers of a new, convivencía, privileged in no small part because their unimpeachable racial capital and modern belonging allows them to side-step the stigmatizing gaze; their Islamic dress is read as cosmopolitan fashion rather than patriarchal backwardness. Moroccan migrants, on the other hand, can claim genealogical capital, as both naturally Muslim from birth and as the lineal descendents of the original inhabitants of al-Andalus.” Just based on this their is no secular ideology. If the major religion is suppose to be Islam then there shouldn’t be a divide in what is the real “Islamic faith”.
Paul A. Silverstein (2017) Minority politics in the Mediterranean world, History
and Anthropology, 28:5, 653-662, DOI: 10.1080/02757206.2017.1344838
In Alison Leitch’s article, she stats how there has been a influx of “fast food” in countries like Italy, which was not the norm a decade before when she was there. With “fast food” becoming more popular in Europe a group of people started a movement called “Slow Food”. The Slow Food movement, waned to protect the “protection of threatened foods and the diversity of cultural landscapes.” They believe that “Slow Foods” are essential for not only tourism to give a true cultural experience, but it’s important to a healthier Europe. The question I propose is, has “fast food” become the traditional meal of America.
This article goes on to discuss the struggle of Morocco in trying to show that they are a nations of many different languages and religions instead of considering itself as one type of state. This creates issues because the government wasn’t recognizing particular groups within the country making it see exclusive to some parties. Many of the minorities in the country are treated unequal compared to people who speak Arabic. This struggle is similar to what can be seen in many countries all over the world, so with this the people have protest calling for a new constitution to be enacted. This will help create a feeling of equality among different minorities in a country, and this makes the country feel more holistic compared to making it seem like only one type of religion is allowed in the country when they have that as there “state” religion and language. The main point is trying to look at the Mediterranean as an example of many differences in equality and taking past examples and using them to show the importance of equality in a country around not only the Mediterranean but the world.
In his article, Minority Politics in the Mediterranean World, Paul Silverstein writes of the difficulty facing the ideal of minority politics within the Mediterranean culture. He explains this overall struggle to find an equilibrium between single and plural views within legal rhetoric used within Morocco. The government attempts to be all inclusive, however, still names itself a Muslim state with Arabic as its official language and Islam as the official religion of the state. He states that the Mediterranean is “particularly ‘good to think’ as a frontier zone where the long historic circulation of people, goods , and cultural forms have layered a multiplicity of interpenetrating social formations and proliferated (sometimes violent) encounters across various terrains of difference.” This view of his is the basis for his argument against minority politics being used in Morocco. He explains that this rich historic relevance and significant cultural background throughout the Mediterranean, more specifically Morocco, can’t be seen as “minority politics” as all those within Morocco share this web of history. He explains that so many different factors play into the historic background of Morocco that there is so many different minorities that minority politics can no longer be used to explain the exclusion of some cultures from the nations official language or religion. Silverstein uses this fact as a way to show that the current Moroccan constitution as a better form of the previous versions but still not complete inclusive to all cultures within Morocco. His main concern with the new constitution is that, though it allows other religions and languages to be practiced, it is “not backed up by actual institutions of financial investments which would guarantee political rights, socioeconomic equity and the rule of law- they call for social justice and an end to the corruption and disdain they face on a daily basis from government workers and security forces – [this] is not a minority politics as such, but, ultimately, a simply human politics.” This means that, while the written constitutions states these practices are acceptable, it does not include any form of protection for these practices and no way for these minority groups to overcome the same political oppression that they have been facing. The text in the constitution may read as a piece encouraging multiculturalism, however, it still limits the minority groups by leaving out any political or economic protections for the minorities.
This difficult piece first reminded me of our midterm debate over the reason the Mediterranean was seen as a whole. The historic and cultural similarities in the groups living within the Mediterranean have been a standing factor in much of the development in legislation. However, I was surprised to see that somewhere that so openly appealed to multiculturalism still saw a single language and a single religion as more dominant and significant than others. I was even more astonished when Silverstein pointed out that this promise of inclusion was simply a hallow promise made for political improvement. Can we see examples of this in our society? Is the United States so new when compared to countries around the Mediterranean to see the same type of multiculturalism or is it even more evident here as we are a nation of different backgrounds?
In the article ‘Minority politics in the Mediterranean world’ by Paul A. Silverstein, talks about a change in the Moroccan constitution, following large country-wide protests calling for more equality among minorities. Paul mentions in his article that this new constitution would both make various aspects of Muslim culture still important in government (ie, Islam the state religion, Arabic state language), as well as allowing others to speak in their own tongues and practice their own faiths. However, even as the various minorities in Morocco are told that they are now welcome, it seems that they do not feel that way, to which I cannot fault them for. After all, the Moroccan constitution itself states that Muslim is the religion of the government, not what ever faith another practices. It is even mentioned the the Paul’s article that those who speak Tamazight have to deal with a local government who may treat them unequally, who feel that they are burdened by having to speak a language that they may not know well. What I would like to ask is how might a like Morocco be able to truly represent both its minorities, and those in the majority ethnic groups.
One thing I liked about this Paul Silverstein piece was the fact that it gives us a glimpse of the Mediterranean that we don’t always discuss. Everyone knows that the Mediterranean is comprised of countries like Italy and Greece, but I don’t feel like we have enough conversation about the others. The discussion of Morrocco and this idea of a “sovereign Muslim state” is what I was talking about when I mentioned getting a glimpse of a Mediterranean culture that I don’t personally generally think of. The new constitution that was in July 2011 proclaimed that Morroco was a “modern, cosmopolitan nation” which I found interesting seeing as though where it was also described as a Muslim state where Islam was given preeminence. I’m not denoting that there is anything wrong with a nation having a declared religion, but Silverstein explained that this new constitution was supposed to modernize the country and it seems as though this new document is still borrowing some of the old language.
For example, article 3 of the new constitution states that Islam is the religion of the state, yet “the free exercise” of other faiths is “guaranteed”. I wonder how true that is. I kind of feel that no specific religion needs to be known as the religion of that specific state if the practice of all religions is guaranteed. The same was said about the official language. One of my other classes is actually centered around minority politics so it’s nice to see that the courses I chose this semester are intersecting, as they should. It seems as though some people believe that instituting minority politics is the solution to previous governments that have marginalized certain people groups. While minority politics may provide a better representation of said groups, I don’t feel that it is the final answer. Basing politics merely off of ethnicity and/or religion can cause other issues.
In her article, Alison Leitch describes the ever present American fast foods that have made their way to Italy. She notes foods such as mcdonalds being seen throughout the city with the notable absence of what she calls “slow foods” or foods more likely served for a home dinner ir resturant than a fast food place. As she was talking about this, I couldn’t help but to reflect on our towns around here and how so few of them are actual locally based restaurants. Almost all of the food offered in towns now consists of fast foods. I honestly can’t remember the last time I had a sit down meal with my family. It also is hard to tell just how many cultural traditions will be lost to fast foods. Is there really any way to stop this spread?
Everyone knows what fast food is but no one talks about “slow food”. The idea of “endangered foods” makes you think about how food is handled in the United States. For many college students, slow food isn’t an option. Some don’t have access to kitchens to cook their own food due to living in a dorm or they simply feel they don’t have time to cook. Countless times I have been guilty of thinking it is just more convenient to eat fast food and elect to eat that instead of cooking even though I have a kitchen and I have time. Our culture is fast pass and makes you feel like time is flying and that you need to catch up. In my own experience, the food I cook at home seems more filling and more flavorful than the mass produced burgers at a fast food restaurant. It doesn’t seem so strange to think other countries don’t want the same fast food culture we do. Food is better, both taste wise and health wise, and it bring families together to eat. Think about Thanksgiving. Every year we set one day for slow foods only. What do people do? They gather and bond over food. Could family units in the US be strengthened if we join in focusing more on slow foods?