War has broken out in Western Sahara and few have heard the news. At a crossroads between sub-Saharan Africa and North Africa, the Saharan desert has long been misconstrued in colonial discourses as a largely unpeopled geography deemed culturally marginal and largely assimilable to Maghrebi post-colonial nation-states. As a result, Saharan political identities occupy a blind spot in social scientific area studies. Partly for this reason, the political demands of hundreds of thousands of Sahrawis who support the Polisario Front—an anti-colonial national liberation movement established in 1973 to recover sovereignty over Western Sahara—are systematically sidelined in global political agendas and mostly ignored in mainstream media.
Daniel Neep reviews Lisa Wedeen’s book Authoritarian Apprehensions: Ideology, Judgment, and Mourning in Syria and finds it a “serious, powerful work operating on multiple levels: it speaks to an impressive range of debates in the Anglophone academy and the Syrian artistic field without losing sight of the visceral suffering of Syrians both inside and outside the country.”