Middle East Studies

David Stenner

Assistant Professor of Middle East and North African History, Christopher Newport University

International Anti-Colonialism and the Remaking of the Moroccan State

The Moroccan liberation struggle took place both at home and abroad as anticolonial activists skillfully lobbied world public opinion to support their quest for independence. These outreach efforts brought together nationalists from both Spanish and French Morocco, who sought to display a united front on the global stage. By structuring their campaign as a social network of supporters, the Moroccans managed to present their case to many influential statesmen, which ultimately created immense diplomatic pressure on the colonial governments that contributed to the end of the protectorate regimes. Particularly those activists that had operated offices in Paris, New York, Cairo and beyond learned not only how to deal with the modern media and work the circuits of international diplomacy, but also formed countless personal relations with influential figures around the globe. After March 1956, though, King Mohammad V coopted most of them, thus benefiting from their precious social capital and know-how during the pivotal years of post-independence state formation. The internationalization of the Moroccan question after World War II thus both paved the way for Morocco’s independence and laid the foundation for the authoritarian monarchy that rules the country until today.

David Stenner is assistant professor of history at Christopher Newport University. He received his Ph.D. from University of California, Davis in 2015 and was a Sultan Visiting Scholar in Arab Studies at University of California, Berkeley. His research interests lie at the intersection of North African colonial history, decolonization, and modern Arab politics. He is the author of Globalizing Morocco: Transnational Activism and the Postcolonial State (Stanford University Press, 2019), and has published articles in The Journal of North African Studies, Cold War History and the Journal of Global History.