16 Jan 2013 12:00pm - 2:00pm CRASSH, Alison Richard Building, S3 (Third floor)


Dr Alice Wilson (Social Anthropology; Homerton College) presents at the CRASSH Postdoctoral Research Seminar

The event is free to attend but registration is required. Please click on the link at the right hand side of the page to register your place. A sandwich lunch will be provided.



After several decades during which for many it seemed historically and politically remote, revolution has recently re-emerged as a pressing empirical concern in the light of the Arab Spring. In this paper, I draw on over two years of ethnographic research with Sahrawi refugees living through the ongoing social revolution directed, since 1975, by Western Sahara’s liberation movement, to examine different theoretical approaches to revolution. In particular, some have argued for seeing revolution as the reconfiguration of the social contract in a given setting. Responding to how such an approach is both helpful in the Sahrawi case and yet leaves “mid-revolution” new modifications to the refugees’ social contract unaccounted for, I draw on an ethnographic analysis of the Sahrawi refugee camps to propose conceptualising revolution in terms of a moral contract. At least in the Sahrawi case, the terms of this moral contract have proved enduring in their prolonged social revolution.

About Alice Wilson

Alice Wilson is a social anthropologist with research interests in statehood and sovereignty, especially in the Middle East and North Africa. She is currently working on a book manuscript, provisionally entitled Remaking sovereignty: tribe, state power and revolution in a North Africa liberation movement, which addresses the lived experience of sovereignty in the refugee camps of Western Sahara’s liberation movement. The themes of this research include legal reform, democratization, “unusual” taxation and the management of social inequalities. In her post-doctoral research as a Junior Research Fellow at Homerton College, Cambridge, Alice is working on the refugees’ property relations, and migration to and from the refugee camps.


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