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The Tunisian Stage

Shakespeare's Part in Question

Rafik Darragi

Last March, a well-known Tunisian critic wondered about the motivations that had led Mohamed Driss, the head of the Tunisian National Theatre and one of the greatest directors in the country, to direct a Shakespeare play: What is today the purpose of reproducing a Shakespearean tragedy, when all over the world directors are desperately searching for new creative ways, new means for attracting a public who is more and more disinterested by the theatre?

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Corinna Mullin and Ian Patel

Th is article discusses the politics of “transition” in Tunisia and locates Tunisia’s post-uprising justice initiatives within existing critical literature on global liberal governance and transitional justice. Methodologically, it treats transitional justice as a site of contestation, involving the exercise of domestic and transnational strategies of power as well as the oft en subversive agency of former and ongoing victims of state crime. By examining noninstitutionalized forms of contestation, this article seeks to understand and contextualize the fears expressed by some victims that the formal transitional justice process may be a diversion from, rather than bridge to, revolutionary aims.

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The Enigma of Mobility

Reflections on the Arab Revolutions

Frank Uekoetter

This article makes a first attempt at outlining the place of the ongoing arab revolution in modern history, with special attention to its significance to mobility studies. taking issue with readings that emphasize the roots of the revolt in islam or the arab world, it stresses the economic background of the grievance, and specifically the elusive hope for social mobility in the countries' youth. it also highlights the crucial role of networking activities, both face-to- face and online, in creating the momentum that led to toppling of powerful regimes in Egypt and tunisia. The article seeks to demonstrate how mobility studies can highlight the peculiar challenges that both countries are currently facing. By way of conclusion, it shows how the case at hand forces us to think more about the mind of mobility, and more broadly about the ambitions and theoretical promises that the field of mobility studies should embrace.

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Family Life in Tunisia after the Revolution of 2011

Two Women and Two Men in a Changing Time

Irene Maffi

Postcolonial Tunisia has gone through substantial transformations of its legal and socio-economic structures. Habib Bourguiba began the work of social and juridical engineering aimed to make the independent state a modern country, contributing to profound changes in family structures. In this article, I intend to investigate the family life of two women and two men with whom I established friendships during the fieldwork I carried out in Tunisia between 2013 and 2014. Examining the relationships of my interlocutors with their family members, I will depict an ethnographic portrait of a few Tunisian families. While they are not representative of Tunisian society, they nevertheless allow insight into a specific sector of it and help understand the effects of the revolution of 2011 on family structures.

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Virginie Rey

This article presents an analysis of the evolution of ethnographic museums in Tunisia, tracing their development from the period of French colonial rule until the present. It documents and interprets the trajectory of museography in the country over nearly a century, demonstrating changes and continuities in role, setting and architecture across shifting ideological landscapes, from the colonial, to the postcolonial to the more recent revolutionary setting. It is argued that Tunisian ethnographic museums, both in their processes of conception behind the scenes and in their scenography itself, have been key sites in which to read debates about national identity. The article excavates the evolution of paradigms in which Tunisian popular identity has been expressed through the ethnographic museum, from the modernist notion of 'indigenous authenticity' to efforts at nation-building after independence, and more recent conceptions of cultural diversity. Based on a combination of archival research, participant observation and interviews with past and present protagonists in the Tunisian museum field, this research brings to light new material on an understudied area.

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Debate

Religion and Revolution

Mark Juergensmeyer, Sidharthan Maunaguru, Jonathan Spencer and Charles Lindholm

For some decades, the religious rebellion of the late-twentieth and early-twenty-first centuries was characterized by political violence, terrorism, and strident rhetoric. Then in 2011, the events collectively known as Arab Spring seemed to offer a new model: mass movements leading to democratic reform and electoral change. The elections of 2012 swept religious parties and leadership into office in Egypt, Tunisia, and Libya. Is this the face of the future of religious rebellion around the world?

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Osvaldo Croci and Marco Valigi

The uprising against Colonel Muammar Gaddafi was part of the “Arab

Spring,” a wave of demonstrations that began at the end of 2010 and

led, in a short space of time, to the fall of regimes in Tunisia and

Egypt; uprisings in Syria, Yemen, and Bahrain; and street protests in a

number of other Arab countries. Following the collapse of the ruling

administrations in neighboring Tunisia and Egypt on 14 January and 11

February, respectively, street protests against Gaddafi began in Libya.

The violent reaction of the Libyan regime led to uprisings throughout

the country. On 27 February, anti-Gaddafi forces established a provisional

government, known as the National Transitional Council (NTC),

in Benghazi. The ensuing civil war resulted in the intervention of a

NATO-led coalition to enforce United Nations (UN) Security Council

Resolution 1973, which provided for the establishment of a no-fly zone

to protect civilians. From their stronghold in eastern Libya, the anti-

Gaddafi forces, aided by NATO air cover and air strikes, slowly took

control of the rest of the country. They captured Tripoli on 28 August

and then moved against the remaining pro-Gaddafi forces in northeastern

Libya. Gaddafi’s last stand in his hometown of Sirte ended on 20

October, when he was captured and killed.

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Elina Oinas

In this article I explore the concept of the rebellious girl by examining the cases of three different girls: an HIV activist in South Africa; a young feminist in Finland; and a topless on-line protester in post-revolution Tunisia. Although their contexts and messages vary greatly, there are marked similarities between and amongst them. I suggest that, in general, the media, political movements, and research agendas often appear to have difficulty taking girls' protests seriously. The rebellious girl is ridiculed, shunned, shamed, and disciplined. The protests explored here can, however, be read as important visual interruptions that attempt to invoke an epistemic mutiny that does not beg for inclusion on preexisting terms but, rather, challenges the boundaries of acceptable bodily integrity. They also gesture towards the social in a way that demands recognition, acceptance, and support, not a simplified acceptance based on the notion of neoliberal individual freedom.

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The Silent Spring

Why Pro-democracy Activity Was Avoided in Gulf Nations during the Arab Spring

Charles Mitchell, Juliet Dinkha and Aya Abdulhamid

This article explores the Arab Spring uprisings that started in late 2010, and investigates why pro-democracy movements were circumvented in most Gulf Cooperation Council countries. Our research is qualitative in nature, and looks into the antecedents of the revolts in Libya, Tunisia, Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Algeria, and Yemen to ascertain why revolutionary activity was precluded in Kuwait, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and Oman. Through the utilization of academic research, news sources, governmental, intergovernmental organization, and international nongovernmental organization reports and policy papers, we conclude that the generous allocations of public goods and the extant and reactive government policies during the Arab Spring period successfully preempted revolutionary activities in the Gulf. In this article, we also examine the only Gulf country outlier, Bahrain, by investigating what policies and conditions led to outbreaks of large-scale pro-democracy demonstrations in that nation.

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Alice Wilson

Revisiting 'the margins' as an illuminating conceptual space analogous to, yet distinct from, the exception, this article explores the Arab Spring from its margins to highlight 'silencing effects' that, if they underpin the problematic notions of the Arab Spring and Arab exceptionalism, assume spectacular dimensions at the margins, namely, the 'disappearance' of an uprising. The disputed territory of Western Sahara, partially annexed by Morocco since 1975, saw an unprecedented uprising in October-November 2010. Annexed Western Sahara's uprising narrowly preceded Tunisia's, conventionally recognized as the first of the Arab Spring. Despite Sahrawis' perceptions of similarities between their uprising and the Arab Spring, Western Sahara's uprising is overlooked in most analyses of the Arab Spring. 'Silencing effects' obscure these similarities and, ultimately, the uprising itself.