An overview of sugar culture in Morocco, particularly within a Berber community in Rastabouda
Thesis DisciplineBiological Sciences
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Science Education
Using an anthropological perspective and referring primarily to work by Sidney Mintz, Michel Foucault and Pierre Bourdieu this dissertation focuses on the cultural importance of sugar in rural Berber communities within the Rif region of North Africa. In particular, Mintz is referred to with regard to slavery, Bourdieu in relation to habitus and Foucault in relation to normalization of mass beliefs as well as to events occurring in Morocco which relate directly to power structures within society. As well as providing information about the cultural importance of sugar, an historical account of the development of the sugar industry in Morocco is provided. This includes subsequent economic effects both in Morocco and Europe, with details in relation to the development and decline of the sugar industry, the introduction of slavery to Morocco as well as worldwide economic influences. The latter also demonstrates that sugar has been attributed power which is exerted not only within Berber culture from birth to death, but has had an influence throughout social and economic history since the introduction of the Qu’ran to the present day. An argument is developed which suggests that the presence of apparent discrimination and inequalities have arisen partly from a pure desire for sugar. Some long lasting health and environmental effects of processing sugar are outlined and discussed in relation to the health of Rif Berber. This includes a general outline of societal inequalities between genders in health care, including diseases such as diabetes. Tuberculosis along with diabetes, are discussed in order to show that they are social markers which reinforce various power structures within Moroccan communities. The emergence of slavery, land use, and the effects of the rise and subsequent decline of the sugar industry in Morocco are covered. Examples are given of how power shifted from those initially in authority to individuals at local level who complied with certain social norms and beliefs. This closely relates to the importance of sugar in Morocco, its relevance as an introduced crop along with the subsequent social, national and international changes which occurred and to a large extent remain firmly in place today. The long-lasting environmental impacts of the sugar industry represent both direct and indirect power struggles which are unlikely to be remedied without international intervention.