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Ambiguities of Radicalism After Insurgents Become Rulers: Conflicting Pressures on Revolutionary State Power in Western Sahara’s Liberation Movement

  • Alice Wilson (a1)

Abstract

Armed insurgents seeking to seize the state often aim to transform the nature of state power. Yet for insurgents who become ruling authorities, how do radical visions of state power influence governance after the urgency of war? This article examines state-building in the liberation movement for Western Sahara, a partially recognized state which has ruled an exiled civilian Sahrawi population in Algeria from wartime through to a prolonged ceasefire. Drawing on in-depth qualitative fieldwork, and engaging with theories of radicalism, post-war sociopolitical reconstruction and anomalous forms of state power, the article traces how post-ceasefire international and domestic contexts created conflicting pressures and opportunities for both the moderation, and the continuation, of Sahrawi refugees’ wartime radical governance. This case of insurgents-turned-rulers suggests how radicalism and moderation are overlapping processes, how moderation is not necessarily an ‘undoing’ of radicalism, and how radical ideas matter for leadership and grassroots militants in different ways.

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Corresponding author

*Corresponding author. Email: alice.wilson@sussex.ac.uk

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Ambiguities of Radicalism After Insurgents Become Rulers: Conflicting Pressures on Revolutionary State Power in Western Sahara’s Liberation Movement

  • Alice Wilson (a1)

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