Events in Modern Languages & Cultures
Transnationalism Research Group Seminar: Conserving Sahrawi Culture: Language, Arts, and Identity amidst Political Uncertainty in the Western Sahara
Conserving Sahrawi Culture: Language, Arts, and Identity amidst Political Uncertainty in the Western Sahara
Tara F. Deubel, PhD, Dept. of Anthropology, University of South Florida
In the context of the protracted conflict over the Western Sahara following Spain's decolonisation of the territory in 1975, Sahrawis have witnessed numerous political and social ruptures in recent decades. What processes have affected the cultural identity of Sahrawis affected by the politics of Moroccan integration in Western Sahara and the vulnerability of refugee status in Algeria under the Saharan Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) government-in-exile? How do populations in persistent states of occupation, exile, and political instability accomplish the work of cultural conservation? Based on ethnographic research with Sahrawi communities on both sides of the divide, this talk focuses on several aspects of contemporary conservation efforts, including the maintenance of Hassaniya language, preference for traditional dress styles, and the performance of Sahrawi music and oral poetry in Hassaniya and Spanish. I argue that cultural conservation efforts serve as a central strategy in promoting larger Sahrawi political projects of resistance and autonomy.
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