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Thesis defences

PhD Oral Exam - Maha Tazi, Communication Studies

Women's Creative Disobedience and the Continuing (Gender) Revolution in Post-Arab Spring Morocco (2011-2019): Slam Poetry, Theatre, Visual Arts and RAPtivism

Date & time
Friday, April 9, 2021 (all day)

This event is free


School of Graduate Studies


Daniela Ferrer



When studying for a doctoral degree (PhD), candidates submit a thesis that provides a critical review of the current state of knowledge of the thesis subject as well as the student’s own contributions to the subject. The distinguishing criterion of doctoral graduate research is a significant and original contribution to knowledge.

Once accepted, the candidate presents the thesis orally. This oral exam is open to the public.


This dissertation focuses on women’s creative expressions in post-Arab Spring Morocco as they relate to their continuing struggle for human rights, social justice and gender equality from 2011 to 2019. Specifically, I examine a number of artistic productions by four self-identified Moroccan women artists from four distinct artistic disciplines - slam poetry, theatre, visual arts and rap. I begin by locating women’s creative expressions in relation to the literature on the creative insurgency of the Arab Spring and women’s creative disobedience in contemporary Egypt. I pay particular attention to the gender paradox of the Arab Spring, the rise of political Islam to power and its implications for women’s agency, creativity and continued activism. This dissertation includes a textual and visual analysis of the selected women’s artworks, supplemented by insights from the individual interviews I conducted with the artists. Using bell hooks’s (1989) notion of talking back, which she defines as a counter-hegemonic discourse that aims to contest and deconstruct structures of domination, I argue that Moroccan women’s artistic expressions talk back to several social and political realities that continue to undermine women’s social status today. These productions emerge from and respond to a specific social and political context in post-“revolutionary” Morocco (2011-2019), one that is characterized by both a hijacking of the (political) revolution by the regime as well as the Islamists’ blatant backlash against women’s rights.

Many scholars have previously argued that the Arab Spring failed precisely because it did not include a gender-sensitive agenda. Drawing on Badran’s (2016)’s idea of the continuing (gender and cultural) revolution in post-Arab Spring Egypt, I argue that Moroccan women’s artistic productions exemplify several aspects of such a continuing revolution in present-day Morocco. This is evident in the nature of the themes and topics that women artivists address (i.e., epistemology), along with the way they interpret and make meaning out of certain social realities that continue to undermine their social status today (i.e., hermeneutics). The dissertation concludes by suggesting the continuing existence of a “transnational (feminist) revolution” in the North African region today where women artivists are foregrounding gender as the focal point of both political analysis and praxis to carry on the spirit of the 2011 revolutions.

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