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Poetics of Diplomacy

The Poetics of Diplomacy project is led by Dr Joanna Allan and funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) Research Development and Engagement Fellowship.  

The rich oral tradition of Saharawi poet-nomads is in danger due to Saharawis’ exile from their lands since 1975 and to their ongoing war with Morocco. Despite several Saharawis composing in Spanish, the Spanish colonial legacy and writers’ voiced aim to engage foreign audiences with their work, the Saharawi oral tradition and Saharawi literature are largely absent from Hispanic Studies syllabi and journals in the UK and US (as well as from Arabic Studies).  

The project tries to address this absence by producing field-recordings of Saharawi poetry and recorded life histories of poets, for a dedicated collection held in the British Library Sound Archive, an anthology of transcribed and translated poetry in English, Arabic (Hassaniya dialect) and Spanish, and a suite of open access, online tools for teachers, as well as by organising UK-based literary and poetry events involving Saharawi poets and their works.  

In terms of research, this project focuses on the relationship between poetry and diplomacy in the Saharawi case.  While, historically, Saharawi poetry was traditionally used as a mediation tool between warring Saharawi tribes, there is little research (in the Saharawi case and more broadly) on the relationship between poetry and international relations, or on modern uses of Saharawi poetry for public diplomacy. Dr Allan is currently carrying out research on these issues as part of the project. 

You can find out more about the research and access teaching resources, details about the poets and their biographies, blog posts and more by visiting the project's dedicated website and Twitter page


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