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Journal of Transatlantic Studies

, Volume 7, Issue 3, pp 249–263 | Cite as

‘¡Estos locos cubarauis!’: the Hispanisation of Saharawi society (... after Spain)

  • Pablo San MartínEmail author
Article

Abstract

It can be argued that the Western Sahara forms part of the Hispanic world, not only linguistically but also culturally, despite being an African, Arab and Muslim society. However, the process of Hispanisation is a new and ongoing process that has to do, more than with the poor Spanish colonial legacy, with postcolonial connections with Latin America. A significant part of the emerging Saharawi élites have been educated in Cuba. As a result, the Cubarawis are a new ‘tribe’ that is contributing to the definition of the new Saharawi society - and also generating tensions. This article explores this encounter between an African, Muslim and Arab refugee nation and the ‘Hispanic’ world.

Keywords

Western Sahara Cuba refugees social change identity 

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Notes

  1. 1.
    Demetrio Ramos and Emilio de Diego, Cuba, Puerto Rico y Filipinas en la perspectiva del 98 (Madrid: Editorial Complutense, 1997), 9. All translations from the Spanish are my own, unless otherwise specified.Google Scholar
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    Ibid., 49.Google Scholar
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    José Varela Ortega, ‘Del desastre y sus consecuencias’, in Imágenes y ensayos del 98, ed. José Varela Ortega (Valencia: Fundación Cañada Blanch, 1998), 262.Google Scholar
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    The Real is the situation in which the constitutive and ultimate impossibility of all objects/subjects comes to the surface and challenges reality. In other words, it is the moment when the order of things generally accepted until then collapses and their contingent origin 262 P. San Martín becomes visible. See Pablo San Martin, La nación (im)posible: reflexiones sobre la ideología nacionalista asturiana (Oviedo: Trabe, 2006), 311–317.Google Scholar
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    Eloy Martín Corrales (ed.), Marruecos y el colonialismo español (1859–1912) (Barcelona: Bellaterra, 2002), 10. See alsoGoogle Scholar
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    See for example Julio Caro Baroja’s seminal anthropological study Estudios saharianos (Madrid: Jucar, 1990 [1955]). For a detailed analysis of Spanish colonial literature on the Western Sahara see Pablo San Martín, Western Sahara: The Refugee Nation (Cardiff: University of Wales Press, forthcoming 2009), chapters 1 and 2.Google Scholar
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    Mohamed Bassiri was the founding leader of the first Saharawi nationalist movement, the OVLS (Organización de Vanguardia para la Liberación del Sahara [Vanguard Organisation for the Liberation of the Sahara]), created in 1968. The OVLS, which advocated for a progressive and negotiated road towards independence, became rapidly a mass organisation with thousands of members, until it was violently crushed by the Spanish security forces in 1970.Google Scholar
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    To date more than seven thousand Saharawis have been educated in Cuba. This gives us an idea of the demographic weight of this collective in Saharawi society and of its impact and influence, especially if we take into account the fact that they constitute a significant percentage of the young educated cadres of the exiled Saharawi Republic.Google Scholar
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    Personal conversation with group of Cubarawis, Rabuni, Saharawi refugee camps, June 2006.Google Scholar
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    Personal conversation with Nayim Chej, Algiers, February 2004. Chej used the word ‘shock’ in English in conversation.Google Scholar
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    Boicha, ‘Las estaciones’.Google Scholar
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  22. 21.
    Ajiaco is a Cuban stew.Google Scholar
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    Personal interview with Hamad Emberek, Smara, Saharawi refugee camps, March 2006.Google Scholar
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    Personal interview with Saleh Lbujali, Smara, Saharawi refugee camps, March 2004.Google Scholar
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    Juan Carlos Gimeno, Transformaciones socioculturales de un proyecto revolucionario: la lucha del pueblo Saharaui por la liberación, Colección Monografías, no. 43 (Caracas: Programa Cultura, Comunicación y Transformaciones Sociales, CIPOST, FaCES, Universidad Central de Venezuela, 2007), 28; available at: https://doi.org/www.globalcult.org.ve/doc/Monografias/MonografiaGimeno.pdf, accessed 10 January 2009.
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    Personal conversation with Liman Boicha, Leeds, May 2006.Google Scholar
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    Personal interview with Salek Mohamed, Smara, Saharawi refugee camps, March 2006.Google Scholar
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    Idem., added emphasis.Google Scholar
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    Personal interview with Hamad Emberek.Google Scholar
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  37. 36.
    Personal interview with Fanna Imam, Rabuni, Saharawi refugee camps, March 2006.Google Scholar
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    The mehlfa is the traditional Saharawi dress worn by women - it is essentially a large scarf which is worn wrapped around the head as well as the body.Google Scholar
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    See, for example, Christine Perregaux, Gulili: mujeres del desierto saharaui (Tafalla: Txalaparta, 1993) andGoogle Scholar
  41. 39a.
    Dolores Juliano, La causa saharaui y las mujeres (Barcelona: Icaria, 1998). An alternative reading of Saharawi women’s position can be seen in Joanna Allan’s excellent and path-breaking ‘Representations of Gender in Saharawi Nationalist Discourse(s)’, unpublished master’s dissertation, University of Leeds, 2008.Google Scholar
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    Personal interview with Salek Mohamed.Google Scholar
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    This joke is shared by both the Cubarawis themselves and the ‘others’, although with different connotations. While for the Cubarawis it is a positive term that affirms their shared identity against other collective identities (tribe and family), for the older generations it has a more pejorative meaning linked with the idea of the Cubarawis being ‘rebels’ that break the social codes. In both cases it alludes ironically, from different perspectives, to the dissolution of traditional identities.Google Scholar
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    Personal interview with young male Cubarawi, Rabuni, Saharawi refugee camps, June 2006.Google Scholar
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    See Pablo San Martín and Ben Bollig, ‘Introduction: The New Saharawi Resistance Poetry’, in 31. Treinta y Uno - Thirty One: A Bilingual Anthology of Saharawi Resistance Poetry in Spanish, ed. Pablo San Martín and Ben Bollig (London: Ediciones Sombrerete and Sandblast, 2007), 7–19Google Scholar
  50. 47a.
    Pablo San Martín and Ben Bollig, ‘Poesía Saharawi. Lucha y Resistencia en el Sahara Occidental’, in Confines, I, no. 15 (2008–2009), 1–8Google Scholar
  51. 47b.
    Bahia Mahmud Awat, Literatura del Sahara Occidental: breve estudio (Madrid: Bubok, 2008).Google Scholar
  52. 48.
    Ebnu, El tribalismo o las piedras, unpublished poem.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Board of Transatlantic Studies 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Spanish, Portuguese and Latin American StudiesUniversity of LeedsUK

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