Silenced Resistance: Women, Dictatorships, and Genderwashing in Western Sahara and Equatorial Guinea

“A meticulously researched and thoughtful analysis. Through interviews and archival research, Allan offers a compelling argument for the foundationally gendered dynamics that structure Equatoguinean and Sahrawi political resistance.”
—Mahan Ellison, Bridgewater College

“Silenced Resistance is a ground-breaking study of the gendered dynamics of resistance to colonial and post-colonial authoritarian regimes in North and West Africa. Drawing on extensive archival and field-based research in Western Sahara and Equitorial Guinea, Allan forcefully analyses the complex relationship between women, feminist resistance to patriarchy, and political resistance to authoritarianism.”
—Alice Wilson, University of Sussex

Spain’s former African colonies—Equatorial Guinea and Western Sahara—share similar histories. Both are under the thumbs of heavy-handed, postcolonial regimes, and are known by human rights organizations as being among the worst places in the world with regard to oppression and lack of civil liberties. Yet the resistance movement in one is dominated by women, the other by men.

In this innovative work, Joanna Allan demonstrates why we should foreground gender as key for understanding both authoritarian power projection and resistance. She brings an ethnographic component to a subject that has often been looked at through the lens of literary studies to examine how concerns for equality and women’s rights can be co-opted for authoritarian projects.

She reveals how Moroccan and Equatoguinean regimes, in partnership with Western states and corporations, conjure a mirage of promoting equality while simultaneously undermining women’s rights in a bid to cash in on oil, minerals, and other natural resources. This genderwashing, along with historical local, indigenous, and colonially imposed gender norms mixed with Western misconceptions about African and Arab gender roles, plays an integral role in determining the shape and composition of public resistance to authoritarian regimes.


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