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Blalack, July Scott (2021) 'Hidāyat man ḥārā fī amr al-Naṣāra: The Western Sahara's Missing Witness at the International Court of Justice?' L'Ouest Saharien: Cahiers d'Etudes Pluridisciplinaires, 12. pp. 15-32.

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The disputed Western Sahara is one of many cases where the colonial borders drawn across Africa did not translate into a coherent postcolonial state. Although dozens of legal and historical studies have already analyzed the 1975 International Court of Justice ruling on the Western Sahara, this article brings a highly relevant and previously neglected document into dialogue with the court proceedings. Hidāyat man ḥārā fī amr al-Naṣāra (“Guidance for Whomever is Confused Regarding the Christians”) was a legal ruling on territorial defense written in 1885 by a central figure in Morocco’s nationalist narrative: Saharan scholar and resistance leader al-Shaikh Mā al-ʻAynayn (1831-1910). Although Morocco held Mā alʻAynayn up as proof of its “immemorial possession” of the disputed Western Sahara, the case did not consult Mā al-ʻAynayn’s own thought or literature to see how he represented and interpreted historical events as they unfolded. Hidāyat man ḥārā fī amr al-Naṣāra offers new insight into how Saharan figures negotiated authority and legitimacy on the eve of colonization – especially internal debates regarding whether to contract peace with European settlers or forcibly expel them. The fatwa’s concepts of territory and sovereignty are compared to the historical narratives presented at the International Court of Justice in 1975.

Item Type: Journal Article
Additional Information: Winner of the American Institute for Maghrib Studies' 2020 Mark Tessler Graduate Student Paper Prize. This essay is an output of the “Multilingual Locals and Significant Geographies project” which has received funding from the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No. 670876.
SOAS Departments & Centres: Departments and Subunits > School of Languages, Cultures & Linguistics
SOAS Doctoral School
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GF Human ecology. Anthropogeography
J Political Science > JZ International relations
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN0441 Literary History
ISSN: 9782343224893
Copyright Statement: This is the version of the article/chapter accepted for publication in Revue AUTOUR DU SAHARA OCCIDENTAL - Recherches en cours, témoignages et nouvelles, L'Ouest Saharien 12 Re-use is subject to the publisher’s terms and conditions
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 10 May 2021 14:27
Related URLs: https://www.edi ... 6&razSqlClone=1 (Publisher URL)
https://aimsnor ... nt-paper-prize/ (Organisation URL)
Funders: European Union

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