Burning the Sea: Clandestine Migration Across the Strait of Gibraltar in Francophone Moroccan “Illiterature”

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Contemporary French and Francophone Studies, ISSN: 1740-9292, Vol: 13, Issue: 4, Page: 461-469

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Hakim Abderrezak
Informa UK Limited
Arts and Humanities, Social Sciences
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Since the 1990s, there has been a sharp increase in literary accounts that center on clandestine migration from North Africa to destinations across the western Mediterranean. The prevalence of this theme at the end of the 20th century coincides with Spain’s decision in 1991 to end Moroccans’ privileged status to enter Spain without a visa, and the implementation in 1998 of the Sı´stema Integrado de Vigilencia Exterior (SIVE, Integrated System of External Vigilance), a highly developed surveillance apparatus belting Spanish coasts. The ‘‘militarization’’ or ‘‘fortification’’ (Bensaa ˆd 99) of the Mediterranean has therefore forced migrants to travel along clandestine routes. As Jørgen Carling states, ‘‘the dynamics of unauthorized border-crossing in the Mediterranean region has [sic] received extensive media coverage but little academic attention’’ (3). In this article, I build on Katarzyna Pieprzak’s observation that clandestine migration ‘‘has produced a new terrain in Moroccan literature’’ (104). I call this previously unidentified new terrain (or sub-genre) illiterature. Although the label ‘‘illegal’’ is avoided by most international agencies and many academics, it is the ‘‘standard term in Spanish media and politics’’ (Carling 6). I make a deliberate compression of ‘‘illegal’’ and ‘‘literature’’ to re-appropriate illegality, as well as for other reasons. This sub-genre draws attention specifically

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