Western Sahara: Reasons for Extemporaneous Colonization and Decolonization, 1885–1975



: African Studies
BISAC: HIS001030
DOI: https://doi.org/10.52305/GYPE3794

Published in the Journal of Central and Eastern European African Studies – “The well-structured and detailed book deals with the Spanish colonisation of Western Sahara and the Spanish period, followed by the withdrawal of the Spaniards, which is essential to understanding the current conflict. The authors present in a short introduction the reason for the choice of topic, the research they have carried out and the structure of the book. From this, it turns out that a lot of material has been kept in Spanish archives that could not be researched until now. Furthermore, several people who were themselves active shapers of the daily life of the former Spanish Sahara and then the organisers and executors of the Spanish departure were interviewed. The book is already a curiosity for that reason alone, and because the Spanish archival material researched on this topic has not been published in English yet….” READ FULL REVIEW>>>János Besenyő, Head of Africa Research Institute, School on Safety and Security Sciences, Óbuda University, Budapest, Hungary

“A meritorious review of the history of the territory we currently know as Western Sahara, from the appearance of the first tribal communities until the Spaniards abandoned it, leaving behind a real hornet’s nest. In addition, it pays attention to the main contributions of Spanish and Moroccan colonial historiography in recent years, attending to the most current currents, and enters into strong debate with several well-known historians and anthropologists…” Review published in the journal, Illes i imperis, 2022, Num. 24, pp. 350-354, https://doi.org/10.31009/illesimperis.2022.i24.21

This book discusses some of the most controversial themes in the Hispanic colonial historiography of recent years. Its objective is to offer a synthesis about Spain’s presence in the Occidental Sahara between 1885 and 1975 to show that the processes of colonization and decolonization were unseasonable to the historic context in which they took place. Addressing an English-speaking population with the objective to provide the most complete information possible on a subject matter which continues to be in the public light as a result of an unfinished decolonization process, this work is enriched with research work recently done on different aspects of this subject.

Table of Contents


Chapter 1. The Saharan Space at the End of the XIX Century and Beginning of the XX Century

Chapter 2. “Slowly and by the Coast.” The Slow Process of Colonial Penetration and the Spanish Indigenous Policy (1885-1939)

Chapter 3. French-Spanish Interests in the Region in the First Third of the 20th Century

Chapter 4. The Sahara under the Franco Regime, 1940-1973: Institutional Changes and Political Developments

Chapter 5. Natural Resources and Public Investment

Chapter 6. The “Blindness” of the Regime. From Colonia ad infinitum to the Hasty Exit, 1974-1975




Glossary of Hasaniya Terms

Author’s ORCID iD

Jesús Martínez-Milán – https://orcid.org/0000-0002-1892-7491
Claudia Barona Castañeda –

Additional information


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