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?
In Alison Leitch’s article, she begins with her personal experience of a trending American ‘fast food’ craze in Italy. Having been there in the decade past, she noticed an influx in the quick way to conquer hunger. This retro way to eat food caused a stir with some folk and the Slow Food organization was formed. Under the organization there are foods that are “endangered”. One of these endangered foods is lardo or pork fat that had become very popular in the decade Leitch was absent.
Leitch discusses how when she would entertain her foreign guest during their stay. They would visit Colonnata and have lardo-tastings, in the 1980s this was odd to the guest at first. Then in the late 90s, Colonnata became a major tour destination for international culinary tourism.
In the 1980s, the EU Food and Safety Legislation wanted to standardize the European Food industry. With their newly written legislation they would be threatening “the production of artisanal foods linked to particular localities and cultural traditions”. The Slow Foods movement is trying to keep culture in the European food cuisine. Which leads me to my question: is it too late for American food to have cultural significance?
In this article the author talks about the group Slow Foods and how they have impacted other cultures. In one situation Slow Food dubs pork fat or lardo as an “endangered food”. Slow Foods used this more of a promotional campaign. A consequence of all the media attention was that Italian butchers who don’t use the same process to make lardo began producing products and naming it the same. Almost like the commercialization of Olive Oil making it hard to discern which is the authentically crafted product. Then the producers of the lardo di Colonnata acquired a legal copyright so only a handful of the people could make it. It seems like this area lost a piece of their culture to commercialization. My question for this would be is their good and bad aspects to commercializing a food that is essential to someones culture?