A century ago, the modern metropolis of Casablanca, which today houses some three million inhabitants, was a small and unimportant coastal settlement. At that time, the Medina of Dar el Beida – as Moroccans often call the city – had only about 25,000 inhabitants.
However, the arrival of the French changed Casablanca’s destiny forever. Foreign investment and the construction of a large artificial ocean port transformed Dar el Beida swiftly into the new economic heart of Morocco. Economic prosperity went hand-in-hand with demographic growth, as more and more rural migrants moved to the booming town in search of work. Like many other cities in the developing world, Dar el Beida attracted many times more migrants than it had jobs to offer. Consequently, unemployment increased and slums sprang up across the city. These ominous developments, however, did not stop hundreds of thousands of new immigrants arriving over the last century. As such, social disaster became inevitable.
The author of this book explores the causes and consequences of persistent massive rural-to-urban migration to Dar el Beida during the twentieth century. He goes beyond the level of mere statistical analysis, with the inclusion of detailed interviews revealing the motives of the migrants. The series of in-depth case studies are a valuable contribution to the field of migration studies and give a voice to a group of people who are seldom heard.
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PAUL PUSCHMANN holds a masters degree in historical sciences from the Radboud University of Nijmegen. He also studied modern history at the Hassan II University in Casablanca, while he conducted a research project at the Dutch Institute in Morocco (NIMAR). Part of that research forms the basis of this book. He currently works at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium, where he is a member of the Research Group Family and Population of the Centre for Sociological Research.
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