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Western Sahara

Western Sahara: The Refugee Nation

Copyright Date: 2010
Edition: 1
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  • Book Info
    Western Sahara
    Book Description:

    This book explores the dynamic process of construction of the new Saharawi identity, culture and society developed in the refugee camps over the three last decades of conflict and analyses the complex articulation of elements from the Hispanic, Arab and African worlds that shapes the contours of the Saharawi Refugee Nation.

    eISBN: 978-0-7083-2381-6
    Subjects: Population Studies

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Series Editors’ Foreword
    (pp. ix-x)

    Over recent decades the traditional ‘languages and literatures’ model in Spanish departments in universities in the United Kingdom has been superseded by a contextual, interdisciplinary and ‘area studies’ approach to the study of the culture, history, society and politics of the Hispanic and Lusophone worlds – categories that extend far beyond the confines of the Iberian Peninsula, not only in Latin America but also to Spanish-speaking and Lusophone Africa.

    In response to these dynamic trends in research priorities and curriculum development, this series is designed to present both disciplinary and interdisciplinary research within the general field of Iberian and Latin American...

  4. Acknowledgements
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. List of Figures
    (pp. xiii-xiii)
  6. [Map]
    (pp. xiv-xiv)
  7. Introduction: ‘If you ever arrive at a wide white land …’
    (pp. 1-13)

    My first image of the Western Sahara dates back to the early 1980s, when I was only a child. I was watching TV, the news, and I remember the presenter saying something about a war in a former Spanish territory, which looked very different from the exuberantly green and perpetually wet northern Iberian valleys of my childhood. But what really captured my attention were the images of guerrilla fighters with yellowish turbans, waving their Kalashnikovs and departing defiantly for the battlefield, crowded in the back of old open Land Rovers. I also recall Land Rovers reconverted into sorts of artisan...

  8. Chapter 1 From Cuba to Villa Cisneros: The Construction of a Spanish Neocolonial Space in the Sahara
    (pp. 14-46)

    1898 was ‘more than a year in Spanish history’.¹ The ‘Disaster of 98’ was the turning point that symbolically marked the loss of the position that Spain had held for the last four centuries as a major global power. The progressive decadence of the Spanish Empire had started almost a century before with the Latin American wars of independence and the loss of the mainland possessions during the first decades of the nineteeth century. However, the Spanish political, social and military elites resisted the idea of the end of the empire, considering it ‘as only a temporary setback. There was...

  9. Chapter 2 From the Spanish ‘Peace’ to Armed Struggle: The Emergence of Saharawi Nationalism
    (pp. 47-86)

    Lieutenant Colonel Alonso del Barrio, in collaboration with Captains Jorde and Izquierdo, were commissioned in 1973 to undertake an updated study about the changing Saharawi social structure. The study was conceived as a sort of pilot analysis for the planned census of the population, which would be carried out the following year. In the study, entitledLas Tribus del Sahara, the authors acknowledged that the hypothesis on which their whole study had been based – that the main principle organizing Saharawi social structure was descent and kinship – was collapsing very rapidly. ‘In these times’, conceded Alonso del Barrio, ‘to talk about...

  10. Chapter 3 From Refugees to Citizens: Exile and Nation-building in the Saharawi Refugee Camps
    (pp. 87-125)

    After Zemla the movement was repressed and the remaining members were forced to act clandestinely, the movement was dead … until 1973, when the battle of El Janga took place. They were only seven men. And from then on the movement started to grow. [The Polisario] began to attack the Spanish patrols, to watch over the … military posts of the interior. In 1974 there were some historical battles, with significant losses, in both material and human resources … And it was then when the population started to unite and the support began to grow and grow. Because it was...

  11. Chapter 4 From Soldiers to Shopkeepers: Nationalism, Development and Social Change in the Saharawi Refugee Camps
    (pp. 126-170)

    In the period that was opened up by the 1991 ceasefire, in which the role of the Saharawi refugees in Tindouf was reduced to waiting patiently for the celebration of the promised referendum, the leadership of the Polisario acknowledged the need to create the conditions in which, as Brahim Mojtar remarked,

    these people, who have suffered so much … can live a little bit better. It is necessary to create the minimum conditions for a dignified life … We should provide education for their sons and daughters, health care for everybody. It is necessary to create all the conditions of...

  12. Notes
    (pp. 171-206)
  13. Bibliography
    (pp. 207-216)
  14. Index
    (pp. 217-226)