Date of Graduation

Spring 5-18-2024

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in International Studies (MAIS)


College of Arts and Sciences


International Studies

First Advisor

Olivier Bercault

Second Advisor

Dana Zartner


This thesis explores how sport can serve as an effective means of emancipation against intersecting forms of oppression, framed in the colonial context of Western Sahara. Through the case study of Sahrawi athlete and activist Inma Zanoguera, this research examines the emancipatory potential of athletics at the intersection of feminism, decolonization and the pursuit of self-determination.

Chronicling the multidimensional journey of Inma Zanoguera, her narrative becomes the vehicle of a bigger message : How athletic pursuits provide a platform for subverting entrenched systems of patriarchal, racial and political oppression. As Zanoguera states, "I believe in the power of sports to educate people". Amplifying her voice illuminates the intersections of gender, race, identity, human rights and the continuum of colonialism.

Based on interviews, data and contextual research, this thesis aims to show how sport can catalyze collective liberation struggles, zoom in on the Sahrawi struggle for decolonization, and how non-violent resistance emerges as a catalytic model for women's empowerment. This story highlights the link between sport, feminism and decolonization, which has always interested me without finding the right words to express it, nor having the chance to read or listen to it.

Ultimately, this research brings questions, discussion, critique and proposals for dealing with existing sports institutions and future reforms and aims to reimagine sport as an inclusive frontier for collective struggles against intersecting oppressions.