CAPSAHARA - Critical approaches to politics, social activism, and Islamic militancy in the Western Saharan region

Principal researcher: Francisco Freire

Research group: Circulation and Place-Making


Western saharan region | Sahara | Politics | Activism | Islam

Funding Institution

EC - H2020 - ERC


NOVA FCSH (linked 3rd. Party)



Start date


End date





This project proposes an analysis of the reconfigurations established in the socio-political vocabulary of the western Saharan region from the "post-empire" to the contemporary period. The project should produce na analysis of 1) the social and political structures shared in the region, 2) the local variations of those structures, based on case studies, 3) their specific configurations, based on social markers such as gender, age, and class, 4) the use of those structures in different historical periods. All these will be under theoretical and ethnographic scrutiny in order to achieve its main goal: 5) to understand the recent articulation of the social and political structures of the Western Saharan region, with broader and often exogenous political vocabularies. The methodology used in this project is based on readings associated with different social sciences, with a particular focus on anthropology, history, and political science. The members of the research team, with experience and linguistic competence in the different geographies involved in this project, are expected to conduct original field enquiries, enabling a significant enhancement of the theoretical and ethnographic knowledge associated with this region. The project's main goal is to analyse the types of interplay established between pre-modern socio-political traditions and contemporary political expression and activism, in a particularly sensitive - and academically disregarded - region. Its effort to integrate a context that is usually compartmentalized, as well as to put together a group of researchers generally "isolated" in their particular areas of expertise, geographies, or nations, should also be valued. The project's results should enable the different contexts under study to be integrated into the wider maps of current scientific research, providing, at the same time a dissemination of its outputs to na extended audience.


David Malluche

Full members

Enrique Bengochea Tirado

Circulation and Place-Making

Ewa K. Strzelecka

Full members

Irina Branco da Silva

Circulation and Place-Making

Associated researchers

Zahra Horma

Circulation and Place-Making