Moroccan voyeur

14-Oct-2017 11:02

When Jon told me about the trip and the long plane journey I remembered the plane trip from Tenerife in December 1998 when Jon had me wear my Ben Wa Balls and I'd been looking forward to hours of slow vibrations sending pleasurable waves through me.

As it turned out we were both quite knackered and it wasn't long before we were both asleep, me leaning over on my side on his chest.

Nor does my love for developing countries come from a place of wanting to “save” it or its people — there’s a slew of blog posts on that problematic viewpoint and it’s not something I’ll get into here.

It’s absolutely not because I need to be a voyeur of people — strangers — I blindly assume “have so little but are just so happy,” a common, cringeworthy observation I hear when traveling.

Drawing on Irving Goffman's analysis of the functions of "total insti- tutions"5 and Michel Foucault's seminal work Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison,6 this article explores how Tazmamart captives resisted prison conditions, discipline, docility, and authority through their writings.

James Scott's notion of "hidden transcript," which describes "discourse that takes place "offstage" beyond direct observation by powerholders,"7 is especially useful in revealing "the disguised, low-profile, undeclared resistance"8 that took place in Tazmamart during the "years of lead." By applying Scott's theory to Marzouki's prison memoir, Tazmamart Cell 10,9 and Bine Bine's Tazmamort: Eighteen Years in the Jail of Hassan II, which portray the detention experiences of the two authors in the secret detention camp of Tazmamart in the period between 19, I will elucidate these everyday forms of resistance to discipline and prison authority, and demonstrate how survival was part and parcel of resisting this authority, while recognizing its cultural and political implications for the larger Moroccan society.

Additionally, I will show that the publication of their prison memoirs, and those of other political prisoners from the "years of lead" (1956-99), pushed the boundaries of fear and contributed to the emergence of a culture of defiance in the wider Moroccan society.

The state apparatus had indeed the means to obliterate people and make them disappear but, as Tazmamart narratives show, it was not able to overcome the detainees' refusal to submit to an abject death.

Moroccan voyeur-82

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Instead — the handles of my reusable grocery bags painfully digging into my shoulders — I’d hoof it all the way there and home again. — briefly to Iowa, of all places (never, ever again) — I remember feeling empty when I’d drive to the local Shnuck’s.

Throughout the reconstructed narratives of the period of their forcible disappearance (1973-91), the captives never yielded to prison discipline willingly, and never internalized the fear the Moroccan regime strove to instill in them.

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