Over the last two decades, women leaders known as sulāliyāt from various parts of rural and semiurban Morocco, have been in the vanguard of local contestations over the privatization of communally held land. The stand taken by these rural women against neoliberal privatization policies sometimes puts them in direct confrontation with urban women reformers, whose claims in favor of a universal feminism reveal a value system outside local customary understandings of morality, gender, and land. This article aims to account for the emerging female leadership of the sulāliyāt that operates outside urban centers, but also beyond the universalist language of feminism related to abstract notions of female autonomy and gender equality. Deeply rooted in socioeconomic issues, including land expropriation and the displacement of local peasant populations in the name of reform, development, and a public common good, sulāliyāt tie gender dynamics to the intersectional structural inequalities produced and reproduced by land privatization and by the alliance between the open-market economy and patriarchal political authoritarianism. This article explores the subaltern agency of the sulāliyāt through an interdisciplinary examination of their leadership. The sulāliyāt challenge to official narratives of development and universalist human rights signals their capacity to formulate alternative local meanings of land ownership.

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