Photo of Vivian Solana

Vivian Solana

Assistant Professor

Degrees:Ph.D. (University of Toronto), M.A. (University of Sussex), M.A. (Universidad Autónoma de Madrid), B.Sc (University College London)
Phone:613-520-2600 x 3571
Office:B745 Loeb Building

Areas of Interest

Political anthropology, feminist anthropology, postcolonial theory, forced displacement, humanitarianism, anti-colonial political movements, gender, generation, and transnational activism.


I am a socio-cultural anthropologist who works in North West Africa and Southern Europe. Based on long-term ethnographic research in Sahrawi refugee camps located in Southern Algeria, my work examines the social regeneration of the political struggle for the decolonisation of Western Sahara. Under the leadership of the Polisario Front, the Sahrawi movement for national liberation has retained longstanding nomadic practices and values that provide it a capillary quality. With a focus on women and youth, I examine every day of forms of political labor that sustain and regenerate the Polisario Front’s anti-colonial movement in the diaspora, through practices of mobility and within the sovereign spaces of other nation-states.

Supported by a Wenner-Gren post-doctoral research grant, my current ethnographic research studies the regeneration of a Sahrawi revolutionary nationalism through the lens of intimate Spanish-Sahrawi relations that are enabling a growing Sahrawi migration to Spain. This research ethnographically explores how a Spanish movement of solidarity with the Sahrawi anti-colonial struggle sediments out of the colonial history between Spain and the Western Sahara and produces a trans-political space that is implicated in the regeneration of a Sahrawi revolutionary nationalism across a transnational field.

I supervise students seeking to study questions of forced displacement, decolonization, transnational feminism, or who are exploring the relationship between social movements and the production of popular sovereignties and anti-imperialist solidarities more broadly.

Recent Publications

2021. “An Invisible War in Western Sahara,” Middle East Report 298, Spring.

2020. “Between Publics and Privates: The Regeneration of Sahrawi Female Militancy.” Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East, Vol. 40, No. 1:150-165.

2020. Poetas y Poesía del Sahara Occidental: Antología de la Poesía Nacional Saharaui, Ultima línea (co-edited with Juan Carlos Gimeno Martin, Mohamed Ali Leman, Juan Ignacio Robles Picon, Bahia Mahmud Awah and Mohamed Salem Abdelfatah).

2019 “Hospitality’s Prowess: Performing Sahrāwī Sovereignty in Refugee Camps”, PoLAR: Political and Legal Anthropology Review, Vol. 42, Number 2, pp. 362-379. DOI: 10.1111/plar.12312.

2018 “Renégociation des relations de genre dans l’économie de la République arabe sahraouie démocratique” in Sahara Occidental: conflit oublié, population en mouvement, Eds. Sébastien Boulay and Francesco Correale, Presses Universitaires François-Rabelais. Tours: 317-335.

2017 “Cementing Nationalism: The Role of the Sahrāwī Female Revolutionary in her Struggle for Decolonization.” Culture et politique dans l’Ouest saharien: Arts, Activisme et Etat dans un espace de conflits. Ed. Francisco Freire and Sébastian Boulay. Igé: Éditions l’Étrave : 423-444.

2016 “No Somos Costosas, Somos Valiosas”: La Lucha de las Mujeres Saharauis Cuarenta Años Después.” Sahara Occidental Cuarenta Años Después. Eds. Isaías Barrañada and Raquel Ojeda. Madrid: Catarata: 81-91.

2015, “The Strategy of Style: Music, Independence and the Aesthetics of Sahrawi Nationalism in Exile.” Journal of Transmodernity 5.3: 40-61 (co-authored with Violeta Ruano Posada). 

2011, “A Woman is Stronger than our State’: Performing Sovereignty on the Margins of the State.” vis-à-vis: Explorations in Anthropology 11. 1: 57-77.