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The Youth Centre of Hay Mohammadi: The Making of a Participatory Sphere Institution in Morocco

Dr. Yasmine Berriane

Through studying the socio-history of a Youth Centre located in a neighbourhood of Casablanca (namely in Hay Mohammadi), the main aim of this project is to better understand the processes that shaped Morocco’s participatory sphere institutions over time. Youth Centres have appeared during the period of the French Protectorate. Since then, their main purpose was to offer young people a place in which they can meet, get involved in youth clubs and associations, take part in cultural and sports activities as well as receive additional training and education. Yet, the actual roles played by these institutions are much more complex and diverse. Being public institutions linked to the Ministry of Youth and Sports, Youth Centres can, in fact, be regarded as spaces through which society is shaped, organised and, thus, controlled. At the same time, they may also be seen as spaces in which a large variety of local non-state organisations and actors have, over time, been interacting with state representatives, negotiating the limits of participation as well as contesting the status quo and/or collaborating with local authorities.
This project therefore aims to provide insights into the socio-history of the Youth Centre of Hay Mohammadi in order to tackle the following questions: What are the main phases of this Centre’s history? What are the different generations of organisations and actors that have emerged from it and that have filled it over time? How did they use this space and interact with each other within it? How did their relationship to state representatives evolve over time? Through these questions the project aims to better understand how Morocco’s participatory sphere has developed during the past sixty years and to analyse – using a microsociological perspective – how state/society relations have evolved over time.