Commemorations of African independences have lately been the pretext for the organisation of historical conferences. In the case of Western Sahara, whose decolonisation process is still on-going, it seems harder to find reference dates to use as milestones. Along almost seven decades of conflicts, which one to pick? 1957 and the first modern colonial war in the territory? 1969 and the beginning of the nationalist movements? 1975 and the colonial withdrawal followed by the Moroccan Green March? 1991 and the UN pledge for a referendum? More could be added to a possible celebration list of events.
This Conference chose to center on the “middle” date of 1973 and to cover backwards and forwards the history of this long process. 1973 was a turning point between world economic cycles and the year in which Arab summits decisively entered in the world politics (from the oil price settings to the October oil boycott). In W. Sahara it was a time for a new wave of anticolonial movements, namely the Polisario Front who would remain the main catalyser of Saharawi identity until today.
With this Conference, the Organizing Board hopes to present the results of recent research on the Western Sahara modern history and to update debates about the oldest ongoing political conflict in Africa.
It is also important to stress that a selection of the papers presented at this Conference will be published by the Tifariti University Research Center, whose scientific journal is expected to come out in this symbolic year of the 50th anniversary of the Polisario Front.