SOAS University of London

Department of Music, School of Arts

Violeta Ruano-Posada

  • Overview
  • Research


Violeta Ruano-Posada
Violeta Ruano-Posada
Email address:
Thesis title:
'Music is the new battlefield': music creativity as a way to address conflict among Saharawi youth.
Year of Study:
Began 2012
Internal Supervisors

PhD Research

My research examines forms of musical creativity and expression among the Saharawi youth and their independent struggle (Western Sahara), thus providing important insights into the role of music as non-violent protest. It explores the evolution of Saharawi music and its contemporary performance practice in order to better understand the context that Saharawi young musicians currently navigate, remarking the uniqueness of the Saharawi identity, hybrid and fragmented but with a strong commitment to a common national cause. The research analyses the creative ways in which the Saharawi youth have made use of music and music-related technological resources to re-negotiate their individual identities within this context and contest established socio-political discourses.

Note: the term Saharawi designates an identity that was constructed during the Spanish colonialism in Western Sahara and that relates to the indigenous inhabitants of this territory, whether they are currently based in Western Sahara, the Saharawi refugee camps (SW Algeria), Mauritania or Spain. This identity is strongly held together by their adherence to their common struggle for the independence of Western Sahara, currently occupied by Morocco.

Fieldwork to date:

  • Several visits and a prolonged 6-month stay in the Saharawi refugee camps (SW Algeria)
  • 2-month stay in Nouadhibu (Mauritania)
  • One short visit to Al Aiun (Western Sahara)
  • Several visits to Saharawi communities in Spain

Practical applications of research:

  • Portraits of Saharawi music. Music archiving project in collaboration with the British Library and the Saharawi Ministry of Culture (check for details)

PhD Publications

  • Ruano-Posada, Violeta. 2014. 'Researching music in the Saharawi refugee camps: the challenges of doing fieldwork in semi-permanent desert settlements.' SOAS Journal of Postgraduate Research, vol. 6: 116-125
  • Ruano-Posada, Violeta. 'Performing the cause: the politics of musical expression in the Saharawi refugee camps near Tindouf (southwest Algeria)'. Politics of Culture and Cultural Politics in the West of the Sahara. France (Forthcoming)

PhD Conferences

  • ‘Performing the cause: the politics of musical expression in the Saharawi refugee camps.’ Post-ip’13: 2nd International Post-Graduate Forum for Studies in Music and Dance. University of Aveiro (Portugal), December 2013
  • ‘Singing, sharing, resisting: music as peaceful struggle in Western Sahara.’ Sandblast, The Art of Struggle: Addressing Human Rights through Music (SOAS, London), April 2013
  • ‘Singing for the cause: the impact of exile and conflict in the birth and development of Saharawi revolutionary music (1975-1991).’ British Forum for Ethnomusicology, National Graduate Conference (London), September 2012



  • 'Telling (hi)stories through music: the power of performance in the Saharawi refugee camps.' Memory, Power, and Knowledge in African Music and Beyond. University of Cape Coast (Ghana), June 2015
  • 'Ethnomusicology as activism: reflections about a project for the preservation of the Saharawi oral musical heritage.' XIII CONGRESO SIBE: Diálogo, apertura e interdisciplinariedad: hacia la etnomusicología del siglo XXI. International University Menéndez Pelayo (Cuenca, Spain), October 2014


Saharawi music, the politics of music and youth, peaceful protest through the arts, music and memory, music and culture in Northwest Africa, research advocacy.