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The Ideal Refugees

Islam, Gender, and the Sahrawi Politics of Survival

by Elena Fiddian-Qasmiyeh

Publication Year: 2013

Refugee camps are typically perceived as militarized and patriarchal spaces, and yet the Sahrawi refugee camps and their inhabitants have consistently been represented as ideal in nature: uniquely secular and democratic spaces, and characterized by gender equality. Drawing on extensive research with and about Sahrawi refugees in Algeria, Cuba, Spain, South Africa, and Syria, Fiddian- Qasmiyeh explores how, why, and to what effect such idealized depictions have been projected onto the international arena.

Published by: Syracuse University Press

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. i-vii

Contents

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pp. vii-viii

Illustrations and Maps

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pp. ix-x

Tables

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pp. xi-xii

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Acknowledgments

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pp. xiii-xiv

this book is the outcome of a multisited research effort funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (2005–9). My analysis has benefited from consultations with and feedback from various audiences, including during seminars and conferences at the Universities of Cambridge and...

Acronyms and Abbreviations

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pp. xv-xviii

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Introduction

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pp. 1-46

The “uniqueness” and social superiority of Sahrawi refugees over “other refugees” have been systematically proclaimed by Western academics and representatives of nongovernmental organizations (NGO) since the establishment of the Algerian-based Sahrawi refugee camps...

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1 —Engendering the Colonial Encounter

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pp. 47-78

Reports of the Sahrawi refugee context habitually claim that Sahrawi women are, and always have been, “free,” “equal,” and “active participants” in all areas of refugee camp life due to their historically “equal” role in “Sahrawi society” both before and during much of the...

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2 —The Sahrawi Refugee Camps

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pp. 79-125

Unlike refugee camps that are run and controlled by international organizations such as the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), the Sahrawi refugee camps have been “managed” since their creation by the Polisario Front, which proclaimed the birth of the...

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3 —Emerging Discourse

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pp. 126-171

Although alternative, and sometimes competing, descriptions emerge in many reports and articles on the Sahrawi refugee camps, the frequency with which the same terms and conceptualizations of Sahrawi women arose during my multisited interviews demands careful examination....

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4 —Secular Sisters, Muslim Others,and the Politics of Survival

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pp. 172-220

During their interactions with Western aid providers, the Polisario/ SADR has engaged in a process of what Yeğenoğlu refers to as “the historical inscription of a particular identity” (1998, 3) by emphasizing certain characteristics while silencing others for strategic reasons. The ...

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5 —Discursive Silences,“Ideal Women,” and Directing Aid

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pp. 221-261

The official prioritization and centralization of idealized and homogenized “Sahrawi women” has been detrimental to those Sahrawi refugees who are marginalized, silenced, and displaced by the Polisario/ SADR, civil-society solidarity networks, and/or other international actors....

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Conclusion

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pp. 262-272

Since the establishment of the Sahrawi refugee camps in late 1975, the Polisario/SADR and NUSW have strategically mobilized idealized and homogenized claims vis-à-vis “Sahrawi women” to secure humanitarian and political support from Western nonstate audiences. In this book, I have...

Glossary of Key Arabic and Spanish Terms

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pp. 273-278

References

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pp. 279-320

Index

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pp. 321-332


E-ISBN-13: 9780815652366
E-ISBN-10: 0815652364
Print-ISBN-13: 9780815633266
Print-ISBN-10: 0815633262

Page Count: 304
Illustrations: 13 black and white
Publication Year: 2013

Series Title: Gender, Culture and Politics
Series Editor Byline: Suad Joseph, Simona Sharoni and miriam cooke

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Subject Headings

  • Sahrawi (African people).
  • Internally displaced persons -- Western Sahara.
  • Women refugees -- Western Sahara.
  • Women -- Political activity -- Western Sahara.
  • Islam and politics -- Western Sahara.
  • Refugee camps -- Western Sahara.
  • Western Sahara -- Politics and government -- 1975-.
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