"A Woman is Stronger than our State”: Performing Sovereignty on the Margins of the State

Vivian Solana


Human Rights activist Aminetu Haidar sat in the Spanish airport of Lanzarote (Canary Islands) from the 15th of November to the 17th of December (2009) exercising a 34 day hunger strike. For 34 years 200 000 of her Saharawi compatriots have lived in the exiled state/refugee camp of the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) found in Algerian sovereign territory. Exploring how legal discourse, mediated through passports and citizenship status, has been flexibly applied to both govern Haidar’s movement and its reverse; how Haidar has used her body to denounce and make legible arbitrary power upon her, this paper reads Haidar’s action through Das & Poole (2004) to discuss how illegality and the state of exception are at the heart of modern State power. The paper also explores the efficacy of Haidar’s actions and some of its implications for the longstanding plight for political recognition in the Western Sahara.


Anthropology of the State; Sovereignty; Margins

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