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Open Access Publications from the University of California


TRANSMODERNITY: Journal of Peripheral Cultural Production of the Luso-Hispanic World, a peer-reviewed and interdisciplinary journal of Luso-Hispanic and U.S. Latino literary and cultural studies, is published by eScholarship and is part of the University of California. The Journal promotes the study of marginalized areas of Luso-Hispanic cultural production of any period and invites submissions of unpublished studies dealing with peripheral cultural production in the Luso-Hispanic world. It also welcomes relevant interdisciplinary work, interviews and book reviews, as they relate to “South-to-South” dynamics between formerly colonized peoples. Although the Journal is mostly devoted to non-canonical work, it will consider articles that rethink canonical texts from postcolonial and transmodern approaches.

Special Issue: Sahara

Special Issue: Sahara

Guest Editor

Considering the Western Sahara: Multi-Disciplinary Approaches to Post-Colonialism. Special Issue on Western Sahara

Considering the Western Sahara: Multi-Disciplinary Approaches to Post-Colonialism. Special Issue on Western Sahara


Mediascapes of Human Rights: Emergent Forms of Digital Activism for the Western Sahara

In the disputed Western Sahara territory that has remained under Moroccan state control since 1975, Sahrawi political activists who promote self-determination continue to experience forms of state repression and silencing of human rights activism by Moroccan state authorities. Amidst a highly charged political climate, the rapid influx of new digital media sources over the past decade has increased access between Sahrawi activists and diverse public audiences worldwide. Establishing direct links via Internet communication, video and photographic documentation, and mobile phone usage has fostered contact and dialogue between Sahrawis in the territory and those in refugee camps in Algeria living in a self-proclaimed nation-in-exile since 1976. These emergent “mediascapes” and new forms of communication provide desired international visibility for the populations affected by the protracted conflict, which is often overlooked by major media outlets. Based on interviews with Sahrawis who create and consume web-based media and analysis of several key sites supporting human rights advocacy online, this paper examines the growing relevance of digital access in giving voice to political dissension, disseminating forms of cultural production, and publicizing human rights issues for broad international audiences.

Poetics and Politics: Digital Interventions in Sahrawi Cultural Production

This study addresses how Sahrawi authors are employing social media in support of the Sahrawi cause. Via new media literary studies and theories of postcolonial nostalgias, this article demonstrates how Sahrawi digital interventions differ from, and capitalize on, competing political and historical discourses. The focus centers on the Sahrawi blog hosted by El País, analyzing its use of communal poetry, nostalgic discourse, and transnational appeal to communicate and support Sahrawi political and literary goals.

The Strategy of Style: Music, Struggle, and the Aesthetics of Sahrawi Nationalism in Exile

The Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR), as a contested post-colonial state built entirely in exile, has forged a national identity based on collectivist notions of political struggle, cultural expression, and resistance. Throughout the past four decades, the Saharawi music scene–and its carefully crafted music styles–have been particularly important to advocate for this vision, both locally and internationally. Through a musico-historical analysis of some of the most influential Saharawi musical productions that have been released since the 1980s, and conversations with influential Saharawi cultural actors, this article engages the dialectics of nationalism and exile in Saharawi music. We argue that the flourishing of a unique Saharawi musical style during the exodus and the war, the nidal, and its more recent developments after the ceasefire in 1991, has been instrumental for the creation of a strong international Saharawi discourse that has proved to be, at times, more influential than any political speech.

España ante el mundo: Spain’s colonial language policies in North Africa

During its presence in Northern Morocco and the Western Sahara, Spain lauded its colonial policies, and relations with the native populations in general, as being more successful than those of the other colonial power present in the region, France. While it is true that France’s educational policies were narrowly aimed at forming acquiescent elites of the Maghrebi societies, Spain’s policies in turn were severely conditioned by a hyper-awareness of existing ethno-religious divisions, a product of the prominence of religion in the historical relations between Iberia and the Maghreb. In this essay, I discuss the differences in Spain’s educational policies between Northern Morocco and the Western Sahara with a special focus on the implications for the postcolonial language policies and the current linguistic landscape in both areas. The main argument is that ethno-religious divisions and political propaganda, particularly during the Francoist dictatorship, were the two most important factors that shaped Spain’s linguistic incursion in Western North Africa and its legacy today.

The Effects of the Moroccan Advanced Regionalization Process in Western Sahara

In January 2010 the king Mohammed VI set up a new phase on the Moroccan regional policy with the creation of the Consultative Commission on Regionalism (CCR), entrusted with the task of drawing up a new regionalization model. The aim of reinforcing the Moroccan conflict-solution strategy of autonomy for the Western Sahara was one of the reasons behind the promotion of this regional reform. This article explores the potential impacts of the advanced regionalization law in the current situation of the Western Sahara conflict, analyzing to what extend the CCR's reform gives autonomy to the territory in conflict as well as other parallel political measures adopted by the Moroccan state.

Celebrity, Diplomacy, Documentary:Javier Bardem and Sons of the Clouds: The Last Colony

This article examines the ways in which Sons of the Clouds: The Last Colony, the 2012 documentary directed by the Spanish filmmaker Álvaro Longoria and produced by the Spanish actor Javier Bardem, makes use of celebrity activism and diplomacy in order to reach an international audience and directly pressure the United Nations to intervene in what the film frames primarily as a question of human rights and freedom from oppression. Despite Senator Edward Kennedy’s sympathy to the Sahrawi cause and the attention devoted to it by the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights, it was a little-known issue in the U.S. before Bardem began to talk about it on a variety of talk and news shows while promoting the James Bond thriller Skyfall (2012). Michael Renov has argued that, although we generally think of documentary in terms of social activism and the discourses of sobriety, desire and the unconscious may play an important role in this genre as well. In this case, Bardem’s ‘sex appeal’ draws viewers to his viewpoint, and his considerable fame within the English-speaking media world, in which actors are expected to share personal tidbits as they pitch their latest projects, gives him a platform to present this issue as an extension of his charming persona.

Las conversaciones secretas Jalihenna-Rodríguez De Viguri

En 1974 el gobierno español decidió acometer, de acuerdo con Naciones Unidas, la definitiva descolonización del Sáhara y convocar para ello un referéndum de autodeterminación. Pero habiendo surgido el año anterior un movimiento de liberación denominado Frente Polisario, intentó neutralizar su influencia sobre la población creando un partido títere, el PUNS, cuya jefatura encomendó al joven estudiante Jalihenna Sidi Enhamed Mohamed, casado con una española y occidentalizado. Jalihenna actuó en estrecho contacto con el coronel Rodríguez de Viguri, secretario general del Gobierno del Sáhara, con quien mantuvo conversaciones periódicas, que fueron grabadas y transcritas. Su fracaso en conseguir la adhesión de la población autóctona quedó patente cuando, en mayo de 1975, llegó al territorio una comisión visitadora de la ONU. La exhumación del archivo Viguri ha permitido descubrir aquellas transcripciones y, a través de ellas, cómo actuó este turbio personaje.

Limitaciones de la política marroquí en relación con el Sahara Occidental

Marruecos parece no aceptar que internacionalmente no se reconoce la marroquinidad de lo que considera sus “provincias del sur”, el Sahara Occidental, al no reconocer el derecho a la palabra de las poblaciones oriundas del territorio. Ahí reside la principal limitación de su política hacia la región sahariana. En este artículo se defiende, por medio de una argumentación histórica, que la asociación del Sahara Occidental con Marruecos podría aportar ventajas tanto a marroquíes como a saharauis, poniendo fin de manera definitiva a un conflicto demasiado largo y que provoca tanto sufrimiento en la población saharaui, al mismo tiempo que crea continuos problemas internacionales a Marruecos. Pero para ello, las autoridades de este país deben aceptar que quien tiene la llave no son otros que los propios saharauis y que sin una verdadera democracia y un estado de derecho que les haga sentir en confianza y con sus derechos garantizados, la integración nunca podrá ser posible. Las reticencias mostradas para acabar con la política de excepción que vive el territorio del Sahara controlado por Marruecos, en comparación con el clima general que vive el país, dificultan que se avance hacia una solución del problema.

Walking Through the Sahrawi Refugee Camps with Judith Butler

This article considers the role that irredentist nationalist Moroccan and Sahrawi discourses have played in the current stalemate in the negotiations in the Western Sahara conflict. Despite this, Morocco has seen a series of revolutionary and reformist movements prior to and in the wake of the 2010 Arab Spring. Although these movements have often been outmaneuvered by the Moroccan monarchy, they have managed to force a realignment of forces as exemplified by the Moroccan 2011 Constitution. I draw on Judith Butler’s critique of identitarian discourses to suggest that women’s rights may be a productive platform for Sahrawi women to establish equally efficient coalitions with other women in Morocco, and work to break the current stalemate.

Sáhara Occidental, Cuba y España: nuestros sueños se juntan en una misma ola

El abandono y entrega del territorio del Sáhara Occidental por parte de España a Marruecos y Mauritania provocaron la guerra y el exilio de la población del territorio a Argelia. Ante aquel drama algunos pueblos y gobiernos respondieron con mucha generosidad. Uno de ellos fue Cuba, que ofreció miles de becas a estudiantes saharauis. La experiencia de aquellos años, el retorno a los campamentos de refugiados de los llamados cubarauis y el reencuentro con sus familias después de una larga ausencia; el choque de mentalidades con la cultura autóctona; el redescubrimiento y la posterior reconciliación de esos jóvenes con  los valores de la sociedad nómada son temas que abordaré en este texto. También haré un repaso a la experiencia de la solidaridad de los pueblos del estado español con la causa saharaui y profundizaré un poco más en  ese triángulo vital de solidaridad y superviviencia.