Joanna Allan

PhD Student

Summary: Joanna's PhD research focuses on gender and resistance in Western Sahara and Equatorial Guinea.


Joanna's current PhD research, supervised by Manuel Barcía Paz and Richard Cleminson, is funded with an Arts Faculty Scholarship. She is interested in the relationship between constructions of gender and strategies of resistance in Equatorial Guinea and Western Sahara.

Before coming to Leeds in October 2013, Joanna worked at National Energy Action (2012-2013), UK Consortium on AIDS and International Development (2011) and Greater London Enterprise (2009-2011). She has also worked as a Consultant for New Economics Foundation (NEF), the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) and the Norwegian Students’ and Academics’ International Assistance Fund (SAIH). She is currently Chair of Western Sahara Resource Watch.

In 2008 Joanna completed a MRes at Leeds with an AHRC Award on constructions of gender in Saharawi nationalist discourses. Before that, she studied for a BA Hons in Spanish also at Leeds, receiving the 2007 Instituto Cervantes Prize.

Journal articles

"Natural Resources and Intifada: Oil, Phosphates and Resistance to Colonialism in Western Sahara," Journal of North African Studies, 2016, 21 (4),

 "Privilege, Marginalization and Solidarity: Women's Voices Online in Western Sahara's Struggle for Independence", Feminist Media Studies, 14 (4), 2014, 704-708.

"Nationalism, Resistance and Patriarchy: the Poetry of Saharawi Women", Hispanic Research Journal, 12 (1), 2011, 78-89. 

"Imagining Saharawi Women: the Question of Gender in POLISARIO Discourse", Journal of North African Studies, 15 (2), 2010, 189-202. Read here:

"From Snow White to Shreisher Dahbu: the Construction of Gender in Saharawi Storytelling", International Journal of Children and Young People's Literature, 7 (1), 2009, 7-27.

Selected policy-focused research

Acting with Impunity: Morocco's Human Rights Violations in Western Sahara and the Silence of the International Community” (Oslo: SAIH, 2015), (with Hamza Lakhal). Download here.

"Evaluation of North Bransholme's Community Energy Saving Programme", (Liverpool: Riverside Housing/E.ON, 2013) (with David Lynch and Deborah Harrison). Download here.

"Warm Homes for Older People", (London: Department for Energy and Climate Change, 2013), (with Helen Stockton and Deborah Harrison). Download here.

"The 2012 Games and Human Trafficking: Identifying possible risks and relevant good practice from other cities", (London: London Councils, 2011). Download here.

"A Brave New World of Migration", (with Arjun Singh Muchelle) in Ben Little (ed.) A Radical Future: Politics for the Next Generation, (London: Lawrence and Wishart, 2010). Book available to download

"The Largest Prison in the World: Landmines, Walls, UXOs and the UN´s Role in the Western Sahara" (Madrid: Spanish Strategic Studies Group (GEES), April 2007) (with Pablo San Martin). Download here.

Recent academic conferences

"Mothers as Martyrs,  Feminised Protest and the Gendering of Custodial Punishment: Gender and Resistance in Western Sahara," The (Unresolved) Question of Western Sahara Symposium, Paris, 2 -3 June 2016. 

"Women’s Intersectional Resistance in Western Sahara and Equatorial Guinea under Spanish Colonialism", European Social Science and History Conference (ESSHC), Valencia, Spain, 30 March - 2 April 2016.

Organised a series of events on "Culture as Resistance in the Saharawi Non-Violent Nationalist Movement", which involved documentary screenings and poetry readings following by a Q and A with Saharawi writer and political activist Hamza Lakhal from the occupied zone of Western Sahara. Events were held at Bertha Dochouse in conjunction with SOAS 16 March, University of Leeds 17 March, in conjunction with Transforming with Poetry at Inkwell Arts (Leeds) 19 March, Morpeth Town Hall 22 March, VAMOS Social (Newcastle) 24 March and Café 1001 (hosted by Poet Sam Berkson, London) 29 March. 

 “Natural Resources, Resistance and Namibia’s Business Interests in the Occupation” Windhoek, Namibia at the Namibian Government and Pan African Women’s Organisation (PAWO) conference on “Western Sahara: Women’s Right to Resistance”, 2-4 November 2015.

Co-convened (with Jacob Mundy) a panel entitled “Researching with the Enemy? Fieldwork with Oppositions, Outlaws and Rebels in Africa” at the sixth European African Studies Conference, the Sorbonne, 7-10 July 2015. Presented a paper entitled “Risks, “White Lies,” and the Academic as Activist: Attempting Feminist Fieldwork in Equatorial Guinea and Western Sahara.”

"Doves of Fire: Equatoguinean Women's Resistance to Colonialism and Patriarchy," Cultural Centre of Spain in Malabo, Malabo, 19 June 2015. I also chaired a roundtable debate on feminisms and current inequalities facing Equatoguinean women at this event.  

“Energy and Intifada: Natural Resources and Resistance to Colonialism in Western Sahara,” University of Durham, Carbon Democracy and Revolution Workshop, February 2015.

Book Chapters

“Colonialism and Patriarchy in Afrohispanic Literature: the Resistance Writings of Lehdia Dafa and María Nsue Angüe”, in Dorothy Odartey-Wellington (ed.) Confluencias culturales afro-hispanas: África, Latinoamérica y Europa, forthcoming 2016.

 "Oil and resistance in Western Sahara", in Wilf Wilde (ed.) Empire, Energy and War in the Middle East and North Africa: Case Studies in History, Resistance and the Arab Spring, forthcoming 2016.

"A Brave New World of Migration", (with Arjun Singh Muchelle) in Ben Little (ed.) A Radical Future: Politics for the Next Generation, (London: Lawrence and Wishart, 2010). Book available to download

Book reviews

 "A woman's revolution?" review of Vilma Espín, Asela de los Santos and Yolanda Ferrer (Mary Alice Waters ed.), Women in Cuba. The making of a revolution within a revolution, New York: Pathfinder Press, 2012. International Journal of Cuban Studies, forthcoming December 2013. 


AHRC Awards for Masters by Research. University of Leeds PhD Scholarship. Fieldwork and conference funding from Leeds for Life Foundation, Fran Trust, Leeds Modern Languages Research Mobility award scheme and the Sorbonne university.