Accepted Paper:

Performing sovereignty-in-exile: women's labour of hospitality in the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic  

Author:

Vivian Solana Moreno (University of Toronto)

Paper short abstract:

Focusing on symbolic and administrative processes that displace the moral economy of a Sahrawi pre-revolutionary order into the present, this paper how Sahrawi refugees' women's labor of hospitality folds into the practice and performance of an unstable sovereignty-in-exile.

Paper long abstract:

Since 1975, the Sahrawi national liberation movement—known as the POLISARIO Front—has been organizing itself, while in refugee camps, into a form commensurable with the global model of the modern nation-state: The Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic. Inserting the Sahrawi struggle into what I describe as a "colonial meantime", since 1991, Morocco and the POLISARIO Front are engaged in a UN mediated peace process that is ongoing to this day. This paper examines the way in which Sahrawi refugees' women's labor of hospitality folds into the practice and performance of an unstable sovereignty-in-exile. I show how the space of the "khaima" (tent/household) bears a metonymic relationship with Sahrawi revolutionary nationalism through a symbolic process that displace the moral economy of a pre-revolutionary order and early revolutionary period into the present. Moreover, this symbolic process is substantiated by the POLISARIO Front's administrative strategies and practices known as "al-istikbal" and "al-tishrifat" that involve "scaling up" practices of hospitality from the domain of households on to the domain of the Sahrawi Republic. I argue that focusing on the practice of hospitality reveals Sahrawi revolutionary nationalism's enduring reliance upon, and valorization of women's labour as a form of political praxis. Finally, in describing the morphological transformations of the "khaima" through time, I show how present political and economic conditions make living up to the longstanding moral economy of hospitality among the Sahrawi increasingly challenging under the conditions of a colonial meantime.

Panel RM-MRB02
Disturbing the category of the "refugee": cross-border histories, hospitalities and everyday practices of sovereignty