Jonathan Wyrtzen’s teaching and research engages a set of related thematic areas that include empire and colonialism, state formation and non-state forms of political organization, ethnicity and nationalism, and religion and socio-political action. His work focuses on society and politics in North Africa and the Middle East, particularly with regards to interactions catalyzed by the expansion of European empires into this region.
His first book, Making Morocco: Colonial Intervention and the Politics of Identity (Cornell University Press, 2015) examines how European colonial intervention in Morocco (1912–1956) established a new type of political field in which notions about and relationships among politics and identity formation were fundamentally transformed. Instead of privileging top-down processes of colonial state formation or bottom-up processes of local resistance, the analysis in Making Morocco focuses on interactions between state and society. During the Protectorate period, interactions among a wide range of European and local actors indelibly politicized four key dimensions of Moroccan identity: religion, ethnicity, territory, and the role of the Alawid monarchy. This colonial inheritance is reflected today in ongoing debates over the public role of Islam, religious tolerance, and the memory of Morocco’s Jews; recent reforms regarding women’s legal status; the monarchy’s multiculturalist recognition of Tamazight (Berber) as a national language alongside Arabic; the still-unresolved territorial dispute over the Western Sahara; and the monarchy’s continued symbolic and practical dominance of the Moroccan political field.
His next project, tentatively titled Reimagining Political Space, focuses on a set of synchronic revolts in Morocco, Libya, Syria, Anatolia, and the Arabian Peninsula in the mid-1920s to comparatively examine the contingencies, counter-movements, and negotiations involved in the forging and negotiation of new political topographies in the Middle East and North Africa aftermath of World War I.
- Wyrtzen, Jonathan (2015). Making Morocco: Colonial Intervention and the Politics of Identity (Cornell University Press)
- Wyrtzen, Jonathan (2013). “Performing the Nation in Anti-Colonial Protest in Interwar Morocco,” Nations and Nationalism. 19: 615-34.
- Guhin, Jeffrey, and Jonathan Wyrtzen (2013). “The Violences of Knowledge: Edward Said, Sociology, and Post-Orientalist Reflexivity.” Political Power and Social Theory 24:231-262.
- Wyrtzen, Jonathan (2011). “Colonial State-Building and the Negotiation of Arab and Berber Identity in Protectorate Morocco,” International Journal of Middle East Studies, 43:227-49.
Chapters, Reviews, and Other
- Wyrtzen, Jonathan (2014). “Colonial Legacies, the Nation and the Challenges of Multiculturalism in North Africa.” In Moha Ennaji (Ed.), (pp. 17-34), Multiculturalism and Democracy in North Africa: Aftermath of the Arab Spring. New York: Routledge.
- Wyrtzen, Jonathan (2013). “National resistance, amazighité, and (re-)imagining the nation in Morocco.” In Driss Maghraoui (Ed.), Revisiting the colonial past in Morocco (pp. 184-99). New York: Routledge.
- Wyrtzen, Jonathan (2011). Reflections from Morocco on the Arab Spring, Trajectories, Spring 2011, Vol. 22, No.2.
- Wyrtzen, Jonathan (2010). Review of The Moroccan Soul: French Education, Colonial Ethnology, and Muslim Resistance, 1912-1956 by Spencer Segalla The Journal of Modern History, 84 (4): 956-58.
Courses and Seminars
- SOCY 135, Islamic Societies, Culture, and Politics
- SOCY S135, Society and Politics of North Africa (Taught in Morocco)
- SOCY 232, Islamic Social Movements
- SOCY 339b, Imperialism, Insurgency, and State Building in the Middle East
- SOCY 372a, Nationalism in North Africa and the Middle East
- SOCY 563, Imperialism, Insurgency, and State Building in the Middle East
- SOCY 512, Sociology of Islam
- SOCY 559, Nationalism in North Africa and the Middle East
- SOCY 567 Postcolonial Social Theory
- Council on Middle East Studies
- Council on African Studies
- Center for Comparative Research
- Jackson Institute for Global Affairs
- Transitions to Modernity Colloquium