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Irregular Moroccan Units in a Regular War

Second World War Franco-American Views of the Moroccan Goums Revisited

In: Journal of African Military History
Author: Otman Bychou1
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  • 1 University of Sultan Moulay SlimaneMoroccoBeni Mellal
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Abstract

This article examines French and American observers’ perceptions of Moroccan goumiers’ participation in the Second World War. For these Western commentators, including soldiers and military officials, the goumiers were often stereotyped either in terms of positive assumptions about their bravery, or otherwise negative depictions of their supposedly bestial violence and seemingly ‘exotic’ appearance. Situating these military perceptions of goumier troops against previous research on French understandings of Moroccan irregulars, this article contrasts these external accounts of the soldiers, with veterans’ own accounts of their military service. Stereotypical accounts of the goumiers’ bravery and excessive violence are contrasted against veterans’ own valuation of combat in religious and cultural terms, as well as the linguistic politics of the term goumier. While concerned with drawing attention to Moroccan contributions to the conflict, the article also contributes to a wider literature concerning African veterans’ voices.

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