From Casablanca to Casanegra: Neoliberal Globalization and Disaffected Youth in Moroccan Urban Cinema

In: Middle East Journal of Culture and Communication

This article deals with the two major actors in North Africa’s 2011 uprisings—namely, youth and the city—through a critical exploration of the cinematic realism that has defined Moroccan filmmakers’ response to the country’s socioeconomic transformation under neoliberal globalization since the 1980s. Taking Noureddine Lakhmari’s Casanegra (2008) as a case study, I argue that this aesthetic frame discloses the critical potential of everyday life and the ordinary affects of anger and the will to revolt among Casablanca’s youth today. This acclaimed film further allows us to approach Moroccan cinema’s affective realism within an urban landscape in a country that has witnessed the rise of a new historical consciousness of postcolonial youth on and off the screen. The first part of this article looks at the neoliberal Casablanca that emerged in the aftermath of Morocco’s market reforms in the 1980s and how that transformation engendered a new wave of urban cinema a decade later. The second part looks at Casanegra’s affective economy of anger and revolt and the articulation of Moroccan youth’s postcolonial subjectivity.

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