Guest lecture by Alice Wilson: Sovereignty in exile: a Saharan liberation movement governs


Debates in Conflict & Development: rethinking statehood & governance

Lecture Alice Wilson: Sovereignty in exile: a Saharan liberation movement governs.


Insurgents, revolutionaries and liberation movements who seek to capture state power often aim to change the very nature of the state and society, e.g. promising to promote participation, social egalitarianism and redistribution. Yet if and when insurgents have the opportunity to practise state power, this is often in precarious circumstances of post-war reconstruction, or exile and lack of international recognition. In such conditions, what resources and techniques help construct revolutionary state power? The in-depth study of the liberation movement of Western Sahara, which runs a partially recognised state authority in exile in Algeria, suggests how making (revolutionary) state power can entail recycling and transforming the social relations of a pre-existing, non state-centred alternative form of sovereign power, in this case tribes. The resulting, apparently exceptional, form of state power suggests fresh perspectives on Eurocentric and North African models of the state. In the discussion part of the class, building on the lecture, we examine in-depth empirical accounts of attempts to create revolutionary state power, asking how these insights complicate grand narratives of revolutionary change.


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