Ceuta and Melilla
November 5th, 2012


On the Yebala Moroccan Peninsula on the Mediterranean coast lies the port and fortified town of Ceuta with a population of nearly 75,000. Occupying 19.5 square kilometers, Ceuta is 25 km away from continental Europe across the straight of Gibraltar, a mere 90 minutes ferry ride from Malaga. 250 km to the East of Ceuta, on the Geuilaia Peninsula jutting out on the Mediterranean Sea, stands the town of Mellilia with 62,000 inhabitants over an area of 12.5 square meters. The peculiar situation of those two towns, the only territories on mainland Africa that belong to the EU — which conceives itself as a monotopia, a single space within which all constraints to the movement of goods, peoples and services and money had been removed — give rise to roaring confrontations.

This research project seeks to analyze the impacts of such hard edge geo-political border formations on the urban landscape of Ceuta and Mellilia, and their Moroccan hinterlands. In doing so, it reactivates the discourse on physical borders, which have been spurned in the past decades by postmodern liberal theorists (Castell and O’Brian) who proclaimed the advent of a “liquid, borderless” world. Instead, this research unveils the emergence of an elaborate paradigm of mobility control characterized by a significant trans-border economic inequality and the deployment of an urbanism of surveillance and exclusion.

Team: Aziza Chaouni, Faiza Zemmouri (ACP)