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New book tells of Saharawi and Equatoguinean women’s historical struggles

15th April 2019

Staff member Joanna Allan’s book Silenced Resistance: Women, Dictatorships, and Genderwashing in Western Sahara and Equatorial Guinea is due to be released by University of Wisconsin Press in April 2019.

This book tells the story of Saharawi and Equatoguinean women’s historical struggles against the authoritarian regime of Spanish Francisco Franco, and explores the nonviolent resistance strategies of women who continue fighting the ongoing dictatorships in Moroccan-occupied Western Sahara and Equatorial Guinea.

Since the Spanish exit in 1968, Equatorial Guinea has faced the authoritarian rule of the Nguema family whilst most of Western Sahara has been occupied by neighbouring Morocco since 1975. Both of the resource-rich territories are known by human rights organisations as amongst the worst places in the world when it comes to repression and lack of civil liberties. Yet Western states and corporates have no problem with funding these regimes in return for access to natural resources. Joanna uses the concept of genderwashing to describe how the Moroccan and Equatoguinean regimes, in partnership with Western states and corporates, conjure a mirage of promoting gender equality whilst simultaneously undermining women’s rights –and silencing political activists - in a bid to cash in on oil, minerals and other resources.

The book is based on fieldwork carried out between 2006 and 2015 in Morocco, the Saharawi state-in-exile/refugee camps in Algeria, and the free zone of Western Sahara. Joanna also had a rare opportunity to interview the women leaders of the Saharawi nonviolent resistance movement during an undercover trip to the occupied zone of Western Sahara in 2014. For the historical sections of the book, Joanna combines oral histories of older Equatoguineans and Saharawis with archival research, primarily drawing on the Saharawi liberation movement’s national archives, and the records of the Spanish Falange party’s Women’s Section, which opened branches in both Spanish Sahara and Spanish Guinea, and witnessed the pro-independence radicalisation of their indigenous students.

Joanna Allan joined Northumbria’s Centre for International Development as a Vice Chancellor’s Research Fellow in March 2019.

 

 

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