Wall of Shame and Security – a four decades of a wall dividing Western Sahara

Marta Kluszczyńska

Adam Mickiewicz University


In the article based on a pilot study in the Western Sahara and an analysis of literature, the author discusses political and symbolic function of the wall (berm). The sand-stone berm surrounded by a minefield and equipped with invigilation technology devices is 2720 km long. Was built between 1980 and 1987 and it is a division line between west and east territory of former Spanish Sahara. Describing a history of its construction, the author indicates a crucial role of the berm in the Moroccan-Sahrawi war that allowed the occupation of the Sahrawi territory by the Kingdom of Morocco from the late 1980s. The existence of the berm creates a kind of alienated borderland (Martinez 1994), with the soldiers of MINURSO controlling the ceasefire, while few migrants trying to cross it from one or the other side. In addition to its impact on politics, economy and the environment, its impact on the Sahrawi society living on both sides of the Western Sahara and Sahrawi refugee camps in Algeria is equally important. The main purpose of this article is to describe the process of changing the meaning and functions of the berm. With its military origin, in the ceasefire agreement of 1991, now it turned to be a symbol for all parties in the conflict: in political, journalistic and artistic discourses (e.g. in Sahrawi poetry and performative arts). Moreover, the berm is still the (absent) subject of the daily life on both sides.


Western Sahara, Morocco, The Wall of Shame, Security Wall, Moroccan Western Sahara Wall


Cited by

Kluszczyńska, M. (2018). Wall of Shame and Security – a four decades of a wall dividing Western Sahara. Border and Regional Studies, 6(2), 165–183. https://doi.org/10.25167/ppbs57


Marta Kluszczyńska 



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