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Event Report-Back -- Reflections on the 22nd Annual Cairo Papers Symposium: Disabilities, Revolution, and the Politics of Hope

[Logo of the American University in Cairo Middle East Studies Center. Image from]

On 15 March 2014, the Cairo Papers in Social Science (CPSS), in collaboration with the Middle East Studies Center at the American University in Cairo, hosted its twenty-second annual symposium titled “Disabilities, Revolution, and the Politics of Hope.” The CPSS, established in 1977 by social science departments at AUC, is a quarterly monograph series under the direction of Iman Hamdy. The symposium brought together both academics and activists, in order to explore how different social thinkers and actors understand the body’s relationship to the state. With that, panelists from Egypt, Lebanon, Tunisia, Armenia, the United States, and beyond came together to share their ...

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Trente ans de recherche sur Tunis et les grandes villes tunisiennes

Recension: Morched Chabbi, L'urbain en Tunisie. Processus et Projets, (Tunis: Nirvana, 2012). Durant les trois dernières décennies, Morched Chabbi a mené de front deux activités: l’urbanisme et la recherche en sciences sociales, principalement sur Tunis et les grandes villes tunisiennes. Ces deux activités se complètent et s’enrichissent mutuellement, et cet ouvrage paru en 2012 en offre l’illustration. Rassemblant les principales publications de M. Chabbi depuis les années 1980, L’urbain en Tunisie est organisé en deux grandes parties respectivement consacrées aux processus d’urbanisation et aux politiques urbaines (au sens large). Du fait de la variété des ...

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In Conversation with Artist Nadia Ayari

[Nadia Ayari's

Since the start of her artistic practice over a decade ago, Nadia Ayari has engaged painting and the history of its development with marked intensity and seriousness. Adding to the complexity that one finds in her usage of the medium is her subject matter, which is not easily decipherable; figural but somehow abstracted and simultaneously sensual with tinges of the grotesque. Her “figures” are outwardly peculiar, psychologically laden, and allegorically political—a combination that is accentuated by the painterly force with which they are rendered if one considers the artist’s stirring palette, her cinematic usage of space, and the densely executed brushmarks that add a ...

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Jihadism and Contraband on Tunisia's Borders

[Logo of International Crisis Group. Image from]

 [The following briefing was published by the International Crisis Group on 28 November 2013] Jihadism and Contraband on Tunisia's Borders Executive Summary and Recommendations Tunisia is embroiled in recurrent political crises whose origins in security concerns are ever more evident. While still of low-intensity, jihadi attacks are increasing at an alarming rate, fuelling the rumour mill, weakening the state and further polarising the political scene. The government coalition, dominated by the Islamist An-Nahda, and the secular opposition trade accusations, politicising questions of national security rather than addressing them. Meanwhile, the gap widens between ...

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Nouveau Webdoc: Au centre de Tunis: géographies de l’espace public après une révolution

[Screenshot du site

Un nouveau web-documentaire intitulé Au centre de Tunis: Géographies de l’espace public après une révolution est paru sur le net. Il s’agit d’une recherche universitaire réalisée par des géographes de l’Université de Cagliari (Italie), du Politecnico de Turin et de l’Université Montpellier 3 (UMR GRED), conçue et produite avec des professionnels des médias (photographes, vidéastes et journalistes), en collaboration avec l’agence Prospekt Photographers de Milan, et financée par la Fondazione Banco di Sardegna. Au centre de Tunis est une recherche urbaine multimédia sur le changement des pratiques et des usages des espaces publics de Tunis, à trois ans de la Révolution de ...

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The Tunisian Constitution: The Process and the Outcome

[A copy of the new Tunisian Constitution lays on a parliament member's desk at the Constituent Assembly, in Tunis, Monday, 27 January 2014. Image by Hassene Dridi/AP Photo.]

The National Constituent Assembly (NCA) recently passed the new Tunisian Constitution on 26 January (and endorsed it officially on 27 January), to emotional and widely reported scenes. This constitution may be as important in the way it came about as in what it actually says. In both its formation and its content, much is at stake for Tunisia, the continuing revolutions in the Arab world, and beyond. In a previous extended article, I discuss the culture of constitutionalism in Tunisia, and how this latest episode is related to this tradition and bears its imprint. The first phase of the transition after the Ben Ali dictatorship was rich in constitutionalism. ...

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عن الكسر والهشاشة الإنسانيين

[لوحة للفنان الأردني حسن مناصرة ]

كان نِزار شاباً فصاميّاً عمره ثلاثة وعشرون عاماً. صار يتردّد على عيادتي بعد أن دخل مكتبي مرّة على سبيل الخطأ. صرتُ أتابعُه بشكل مُنتظم منذ تلك الحادثة، وقد نشأت بيننا علاقة علاجيّة متينة. لمّا عرفته، كان في حالة انطواء شديد، لكن الصّدفة التي شاءت أن تكون إحدى روايات سليم بركات مرميّة على مكتبي في ذلك اليوم، هي التي جعلته يخرج من عزلته الفصاميّة ويتعلق بي. «لوعة الأليف اللاّموصوف المُحيّر في صوت سارماك» كان عُنوان الرّواية في حد ذاته تقليعة فصاميّة. نزار قرأ العُنوان، ثم تصفحّ بعض الصّفحات، قبل أن يضع الكتاب على المكتب، ويقول، بصوت منهك، إنه كتابٌ صعب. ذلك اليوم دعوته للجلوس، وانغمسنا في حديث مطوّل، استأثرتُ أنا فيه بالكلام. ليس لأني كنتُ أريد ذلك، ولكن لأن نزار لم يكن ...

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Tunisia’s Judges: The Intra-State Struggle for Independence

[Former seat of the Administrative Court of Tunisia. Image by Wael Ghabara, via Wikimedia Commons.]

On 2 May 2013, a much-awaited statute pertaining to the formation of a Temporary Judicial Council (TJC) to supervise the judiciary was issued. The statute entitled judges to elect half of the members of the council. The judges, along with legal experts, expected the establishment of such a council to end the hegemony of the ruling authorities over the judicial authority, and to launch an era of an independent judiciary. The TJC began in earnest to prepare the judicial rotation for the years 2013 and 2014. On 14 September 2013, one day before the start of the new judicial year, the TJC succeeded in publishing the first fruits of its work, namely, the judicial rotation. ...

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الأدب والثّورة: حوار مع حسين الواد بمناسبة الذّكرى الثّالثة للثورة التونسيّة

نوري ڤانة: أوّلا، كيف تعرّف بنفسك؟  حسين الواد: من مواليد منتصف القرن العشرين بالمكنين (جهة الساحل الشرقي) لأسرة تدهورت أوضاعها في عهد الاستعمار الفرنسي. تعلقت بأبي قضية مع "الجندرمة" الفرنسية سرعان ما تطوّرت إلى حكم بالإعدام ففرار من المعتقل لتستقر على المؤبد. عرفت، باكراً جداً، أن فساد أصحاب النفوذ لا دين أو عرق أو حدود له، فرئيس مركز الحرس مثلاً، وهو فرنسي، كان يطالب، من بين ما يطالب به، بكبش العيد مقابل غض الطرف عن ملاحقة والدي طوال مطاردته ثم، عند اعتقاله ثانية، مقابل التدخل لتسريحه. خسرت الأسرة في الأثناء معظم ممتلكاتها الفلاحية. وعندما جاء الاستقلال وسرّح أبي وجد نفسه خارج المستفيدين منه.  أحمل اسمين: أحدهما تسمّيتُ به منذ ولدت إلى السنة التي ...

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Tunisia: A New Prime Minister for Old Politics?

[In this 7 November 2013 photo, Mehdi Jomaa answers questions during a press meeting held in Tunis, Tunisia. A forum of political parties chose the industry minister as Tunisia's next prime minister, set to replace the Islamist-led government with technocrats in what's been a faltering transition to democracy. Jomaa, a fifty-year-old independent who had abandoned a career in the private sector, won the vote to head a transition government after weeks of contentious debate by twenty-one political parties, dubbed the

The weeks-long negotiations over the appointment of a new Prime Minister who will be charged with forming a transitional government that will guide Tunisia to the next election has finally produced a result. On Sunday, the political forces and the so-called quartet lead by the influential Tunisian labor union, Union Générale Tunisienne du Travail (UGTT) as a mediating force between the parties, has announced the name of the person in charge of forming a new government. Mehdi Jomaa has been named Prime Minister. Jomaa is currently Minister of Industry in the government formed by the “Troika” –Ennahda, Ettakatol, and the Congress for the Republic—and is ...

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Blasti – C’est ma place

[Blasti Postcard. Image by @Robert Hampicke via SocialVisions]

Blasti –C’est ma place is a cultural and social photography project about women’s and young girls’ perspectives on public places in Tunis and Tunisia. The project seeks to give women a voice, and simultaneously enhance dialogue between women from different backgrounds and with different visions. Women are asked to upload photos about places in Tunisia on the Blasti website which forms the basis for further discussion and intervention. Between 3 and 10 November 2013, a one-week photography workshop gathering ten women from various backgrounds and locations in Tunis will work together on their projects. The results will be shown, as well as the website, at an exhibition ...

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"Laaroussa" Collaborative Art Project

[A group of Tunisian artists and potters collaborated to produce artwork for Laaroussa. Image courtesy of Medrar TV.]

Laaroussa March - April 2012 B'chira Art Center - Tunisia   The Tunisian Association L'Art Rue organized 'Laaroussa' in 2012, where it invited a group of artists to work with women potters from Sejnane--a region in North East Tunisia. They co-produced artwork that was exhibited in B-chira Art Center. The project, as L'Art Rue PR Manager Beatrice Dunoyer explains in this video, aimed to shed light on the pottery work for which Sejnane has been famous for thousands of years and highlight its relation to local art in general. Tunisian artist Yacine Blaich also speaks of his contribution to the project with the 'Sejnane voice journal,' where he printed a newspaper ...

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وقفة احتجاجية لعاملات الجنس في تونس

 "من كان منكم بلا خطيئة، فليرمها بحجر" السيّد المسيح  مطلع شهر آذار/مارس الفائت، وقفت عشر نساء أمام المجلس الوطني التأسيسي للمطالبة بإعادة فتح ماخور مدينة سوسة المُغلق منذ سنة وأربعة أشهر، بعد حملات نظمتها مجموعات من الشباب السلفي. يصل خبر النسوة إلى نائبة رئيس المجلس، السيدة محرزية لعبيدي (من حزب حركة النهضة)، فتأذن لثلاث منهن بالدخول للاستماع لمطالبهن المتمثلة في إعادة فتح الماخور المُغلق بناء على حُكم قضائي.يبدو أن لا أحد تساءل عن مصير عشرات السيدات اللاتي هُدمت بيوتهن ونهبت ...

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About Human Breakage and Fragility

Nezar was a twenty-three year-old man with a Schizoid personality disorder. He became a regular visitor to my clinic after he entered my office once by mistake. I started to follow his case since that incident, and we developed a strong treatment relationship when I got to know him. He was in a state of severe autism but by coincidence he saw one of Salim Barakat’s novels on my desk on that day, and it took him out of his schizophrenic autism and drew him closer to me. “The pain of the tamed, ...

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Tunisia’s Consensus, or When a Kiss Is Just a Kiss

With the constitution out of the way and a technocratic government appointed to oversee the country up until the election, Tunisia’s cultural wars have taken a backseat, but that does not mean they are not over. Prime Minister Mehdi Jomaa replaced the Ennahda-led coalition government after it stepped down on 29 January following months of negotiations between representatives of the governing parties and leading opposition parties and facilitated by a quartet of civilian organizations. The various ...

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القانون الانتخابي في تونس بين فخّ المال السياسي والصعوبات القانونية واللوجستية

استخدام المال السياسي في الانتخابات التشريعية والرئاسية هي جريمة استفحلت في جميع الدول ولكن بمستويات مختلفة. وتتباين خطورة هذه الجريمة بين دول العالم بمدى التزام كل منها بتطبيق قانون انتخابي ذي معايير دولية يراعي في كل فصوله ضرورة غلق الأبواب أمام أية محاولات لشراء أصوات الناخبين خصوصا من طرف الأحزاب الكبرى. ففي تونس مثلا سجّل المراقبون خلال انتخابات المجلس التأسيسي التي جرت يوم 23 أكتوبر من سنة 2011 آلاف التجاوزات التي تصب أغلبها في استغلال أصوات الناخبين من ذوي الدخل المحدود بمقابل مادي أو من خلال عدم ...

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The Janet Abu-Lughod I Knew

I first met Janet L. Abu-Lughod in December 1990 when I invited her to be a keynote speaker for the biennial conference of the International Association for the Study of Traditional Environments (IASTE) held that year in Berkeley, California. The conference theme, “First World/Third World,” was right down Janet’s alley. She was, of course, by then a recognized public intellectual and a well-established scholar whose contributions spanned fields as disparate as urban sociology, planning history, and ...

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ثورة كطوق الياسمين

تنفجر الثورات حيث لا يشتهي المنظرون. هكذا بنى كارل ماركس نظريته الشيوعية (التحررية) وألمانيا الصناعية (المتقدمة) نصب عينيه، فانتفضت روسيا الفلاحية (المتخلفة) وقامت جنة العمال الاستبدادية. وعلى نفس المنوال رأينا شعب كوبا راقص السالسا ومدخن السيجار يتحول إلى مصدر للاشتراكية، وأصبحت الجزيرة الصغيرة مسمار جحا الأحمر في قلب أمريكا الرأسمالية. هكذا إذاً فاجأتنا تونس الخضراء، بلد الفرح الدائم، وطن الأمن والأمان: شعبها أراد إسقاط النظام! ولشدة سلمية الشعب التونسي وهدوء أمواج تاريخه لم يتمكن المستشرقون الأوربيون ...

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Maghreb Media Roundup (January 27)

[This is a roundup of news articles and other materials circulating on the Maghreb and reflects a wide variety of opinions. It does not reflect the views of the Maghreb Page Editors or of Jadaliyya. You may send your own recommendations for inclusion in each week's roundup to by Thursday night of every week.] Algeria Présidentielle #dz2014: les jeux sont (déjà) faits. Baki 7our Mansour predicts a fourth term for the ailing incumbent Bouteflika. Algérie: Un géant vert en ...

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Crise politique et question territoriale en Tunisie

La question territoriale a été un des fondements du soulèvement en Tunisie à la fin de l’année 2010: développement des zones défavorisées de l’intérieur du pays et accès à l’emploi et aux services étaient parmi les principaux slogans de la révolte. Les inégalités régionales et le mode de gouvernance territoriale ont continué pendant quelques mois à marquer le débat politique, figurant notamment parmi les points forts des programmes des partis politiques en course vers la constituante. Après le 23 octobre ...

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Genealogies and Balance Sheets of the Arab Uprisings

Gilbert Achcar, The People Want: A Radical Exploration of the Arab Uprising. Translated by G. M. Goshgarian. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2013. In Alice in Wonderland, a flustered white rabbit asks the king: “Where shall I begin, your majesty?” The king answers gravely: “Begin at the beginning…and go on till you come to the end: then stop.” Telling a story—let alone one as complicated as that of the Arab uprisings and their historical lineage—from beginning to end is a task few can ...

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Emel Mathlouthi at Cairo's Qasr El Nil Theatre

Emel Mathlouthi - Poor Tunisia 25 April 2013 The 2nd Downtown Contemporary Arts Festival, D-CAF Qasr El Nil Theatre, Cairo   Emel Mathlouthi is a Tunisian songwriter, composer, guitarist, and singer who draws from rock, Arabic, and trip hop influences and is inspired by a range of musicians—from Pink Floyd and Bob Dylan to Cheikh Imam. Mathlouthi began her artistic career as a child at a small amphitheater in the Ibn Sina suburb of Tunis, where she lived until age twenty-five. After moving ...

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Dream City Arts Festival: Artists Facing Freedom

Dream City 2012: Artists Facing Freedom September 2012 Tunis, Tunisia   Dream City, a multidisciplinary arts festival in public spaces, is the brainchild of Tunisian choreographers and performers Selma and Sofiane Ouissi. The duo hoped to bring the people of the ancient city of Tunis art on every street corner and in most of the abandoned historical schools, theater houses, libraries and homes. About 120 artists from the Arab world, Africa, Asia, and Europe took part in the 2012 edition, ...

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حين يسقط الاستبداد وتبقى دولة الفساد

اختُزل الفساد الذي عرفته تونس طوال حكم بن علي في سطوة العائلات المتنفّذة المحيطة بالرئيس، واعتقد كثيرون أنّ دولة الفساد ستنتهي بنهاية تلك الطغمة الحاكمة. كان لهذا الاختزال دور هام في شخصنة الظاهرة، وفي انتشار نظرة تبسيطية تحصر تناول الفساد في إطار مقاربة أخلاقية وقانونية تؤدّي بالضرورة إلى تجاهل ارتباطه الوثيق بالاقتصاد السياسي للسلطة، وآليات عمل الدولة التي أعادت إنتاجه خلال الفترة الانتقالية.  الدولة تَنْهب وتُنْهب  يُعرّف الفساد على أنّه سوء استغلال السُلطة لتحقيق مكاسب شخصيّة. تبرز من ...

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