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Tunisia

Tunisia: Democratic Miracle or Mirage?

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Since December 2014, Western officials and analysts have very actively, almost aggressively, celebrated the Tunisian “success,” which is alternatively defined as an “exception” or a “model” in a chaotic Arab world. Following the Tunisian president’s official visit to France in April 2015, Beji Caid Essebi’s visit to the United States on 20-21 May 2015, completed the Western consecration of Tunisia’s induction into the “club of democracies.” The current fascination with Tunisia’s democratic achievement, echoing the blind celebration of the so-called Tunisian economic miracle during the Ben Ali era, requires critical analysis. The promotion of Tunisia as a “bon élève ...

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New Texts Out Now: Hamza Hamouchene and Mika Minio-Paluello, The Coming Revolution in North Africa: The Struggle for Climate Justice

[Cover of

Hamza Hamouchene and Mika Minio-Paluello, editors, The Coming Revolution in North Africa: The Struggle for Climate Justice. Platform (London), Rosa Luxemburg Foundation (North Africa), and Environmental Justice North Africa (EJNA), 2015. Jadaliyya (J): What made you put together this book? Hamza Hamouchene and Mika Minio-Paluello (HH & MM-P): The idea was both to highlight the violence of climate change in North Africa, and the need for an indigenous response. We wanted to point out that survival relies on structural change, and on facing the challenge of talking about climate justice in Arabic. Climate change is already a reality in North Africa. People are dying ...

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Visual Culture in an Age of Global Conflict (National Museum of Bardo, Tunis, 28-29 March 2015)

Visual Culture in an Age of Global Conflict The Kamel Lazaar Foundation is pleased to announce that it will stage a two-day conference at the National Museum of Bardo from 28–29 May, 2015. This will be the third iteration of the JAOU initiative to be held there and the first international conference at the Museum since the terrorist attacks on Wednesday, 18 March 2015. Organized in advance of those attacks, the conference has since taken on an additional pertinence in relation to any investigation into the role that culture performs in the personal, social, public, and political discourses that are unfolding across the region. The indiscriminate attacks have further ...

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World Social Forum: Where is the Struggle against Capitalism?

[Image from the 2015 World Social Forum in Tunisia. Image by CIDSE - together for global justice/Flickr]

The 2015 World Social Forum (WSF) opened its doors for the second consecutive year in Tunisia. Since 2001, this open space represents an alternative to the World Economic Forum at Davos and declares its anti-globalization approach in the fight against capitalism and neoliberalism. At each session, participants and visitors express ideas and personal experiences to make their voices heard and learn how to improve their capacity for self-governance. This year, participants were quick to voice their criticisms. Disappointed Forum-goers were clearly much greater in number this year than the last. Many including the WSF Steering Committee are perhaps ...

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O.I.L. Media Roundup (28 March)

[Carthage room, Bardo National Museum in Tunis, Tunisia. Image by Alexandre Moreau.]

[This is a roundup of news articles and other materials circulating on Occupation, Intervention and Law and reflects a wide variety of opinions. It does not reflect the views of the O.I.L. Page Editors or of Jadaliyya. You may send your own recommendations for inclusion in each biweekly roundup to OIL@jadaliyya.com by Monday night of every other week.] Palestine-Israel Short Doc Looks for the Palestinians in Israeli Elections, +972 +972  features a documentary from filmmakers Tamar Glezerman and Arianna LaPenne on the role of Operation Protective Edge in Israeli elections. Backtracking on Palestinian Statehood?, Josh Ruebner Ruebner writes for The Hill ...

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New Texts Out Now: Andrea Khalil, Gender, Women, and the Arab Spring

[Cover of Andrea Khalil,

Andrea Khalil, editor, Gender, Women, and the Arab Spring. London and New York: Routledge, 2015. [Editors’ Note: This book was originally published as a special issue of The Journal of North African Studies 19.2 (2014). To mark the publication of this special issue as a book, we are reprinting a NEWTON piece written by the editor, Andrea Khalil, in May 2014.] Jadaliyya (J): What made you put together this special issue?  Andrea Khalil (AK): During my fieldwork in Tunisia (2011-13) working on a book, I was sensitized to the profound problems that women in Tunisia were facing since the Revolution, and more generally, the urgency to address gender issues and ...

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Corporatization: Are Public Services still Public?

[Screenshot from

Public water and electricity are back in vogue. Yet, many state-owned utilities are now undergoing “corporatization,” i.e. they have legal autonomy and manage their own finances. Is this a positive development in the struggle for equitable public services or a slippery slope toward privatization? Sometimes driven by neoliberal agendas, there are examples of corporatization that could herald a brighter future for equity-oriented public services. The Municipal Services Project, both a scholarly and activist network based at Kingston University (Ontario, Canada), recently released a book, a blog post and a video, presenting the results of in-depth research dealing with the ...

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Stanford Event: Joel Beinin on Workers and Revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia (21 January 2015)

CDDRL’s Program on Arab Reform and Democracy (ARD), in partnership with the Arab Studies Institute (ASI), presents: Workers and Revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia Featuring: Joel Beinin Donald J. McLachlan Professor of History Stanford University Date and Time: Wednesday, January 21 12PM-1:30PM *Lunch will be served* Location: Goldman Conference Room (4th floor East Wing) Encina Hall Stanford University Abstract Arab workers participated prominently in the popular uprisings of 2011.  They shared the outrage of many of their compatriots over daily abuse by internal security forces, widespread corruption, and foreign policies ...

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Requiem for Tunisia’s Revolution?

[Tunisian man facing Ben Ali’s security forces with a loaf of bread, the use of the baguette is symbolic for the regime's failure to provide public goods and a reminder of the 1984 bread riots in Tunisia. Image from Tixup]

The Arab uprisings seemed to herald a fatal rupture in orientalist narratives, challenging as they did essentialized renderings of the region as one mired by "authoritarian resilience" and failures to democratize. However, four years after the uprisings, familiar forms of reductionist analysis about the regions persist, albeit more subtly. The latest readings of the Tunisian experience have not shied away from condescending tropes regarding the success of its stable, liberal transition as opposed to the volatility and illiberal failings of other “Arab spring” countries. The Economist’s rationale for choosing Tunisia as the magazine’s “country of the year” ...

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New Texts Out Now: Isabelle Werenfels, Beyond Authoritarian Upgrading: The Re-Emergence of Sufi Orders in Maghrebi Politics

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Isabelle Werenfels, "Beyond Authoritarian Upgrading: The Re-Emergence of Sufi Orders in Maghrebi Politics." The Journal of North African Studies 19.3 (2014). Jadaliyya (J): What made you write this article? Isabelle Werenfels (IW): It is a mélange of reasons. First and foremost, I was struck by how little research has been done by political scientists on the contemporary relationship between Sufi orders, the state, and politics in Algeria and Tunisia. Even in Morocco, this relationship has not received the scholarly attention it deserves. There is some excellent work by anthropologists touching upon the political dimension of Sufism, but very little by ...

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Maghreb Media Roundup (December 4)

[Screenshot from a video of a home getting destroyed in Guelmim, Morocco due to major recent flooding. Image from video uploaded by Ali Bedar on Facebook]

[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 maghreb@jadaliyya.com by Thursday night of every week] Algeria Are There Lessons to be Learnt From Algeria’s Past? Dalia Ghanem-Yazbeck examines similarities and differences between Algeria’s struggle with the Armed Islamic Group (GIA) in the 1990s and the rise of the Islamic State.  الجزائر: مقتل اثنين في أعمال شغب Two people were killed last Friday in clashes between ...

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Tunisia: The Victory of Secularism over Islamism?

[Image of Rashid al-Ghannoushi and Beji Caid-Essebsi. Image from MosaiqueFM]

To the layman’s eye, the recent results of Tunisia’s legislative elections read like the triumph of progressive secularism over backward Islamism. Champions of modernization and secularization theory, in Arab and Western media alike, have hailed the victory of Nidaa Tounes  (the Call of Tunisia), a conservative patchwork movement composed of ancien régime figures, technocrats, and leftists, united under the vague banners of Bourguibism and anti-Islamism. The Islamist movement of Ennahda, the incumbent, had been in power since October 2011. I argue that teleological understandings of history and triumphalist narratives of secularism’s victory over Islamism obscure ...

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الثورة القادمة إلى شمال أفريقيا: الكفاح من أجل العدالة المناخية

الثورة القادمة إلى شمال أفريقيا: الكفاح من أجل العدالة المناخية حمزة حموشان وميكا مينيو-بالويللو بلاتفورم لندن، مؤسّسة روزا لوكسمبورغ وعدالة بيئيّة شمال أفريقيا. مارس 2015 يمكنكم قراءة الكتاب وتحميله هنا.   1- ماهو غرضكم من تأليف هذا الكتاب؟ هدفنا هو إلقاء الضّوء على عنف تغيّر المناخ في شمال أفريقيا والتّأكيد على الحاجة إلى استجابة محليّة. أردنا الإشارة إلى أنّ بقاء الإنسانيّة على قيد الحياة مرهون بالتغيير الهيكلي وعلى مواجهة تحدّي الحديث عن العدالة المناخيّة بالّلغة العربيّة. تغيّر ...

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Nidaa Tounès et Ennahda, l’alliance entre « deux forces d’ancien régime » en Tunisie. Retour sur l'histoire de la révolution avec Aziz Krichen

Aziz Krichen est une figure historique de la gauche tunisienne. Son opposition frontale aux régimes de Habib Bourguiba et de Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali le conduit en prison puis à l’exil. Ministre conseiller du président Moncef Marzouki depuis janvier 2012, il a démissionné de ses fonctions en mai 2014 pour ne pas avoir à cautionner une stratégie consistant à attiser les clivages identitaires du pays pour mobiliser l’électorat islamiste en prévision de l’élection présidentielle. Il répond ici à ...

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New Texts Out Now: Olfa Lamloum and Mohamed Ben Zina, Jeunes de Douar Hicher et d’Ettadhamen. Une enquête sociologique

Olfa Lamloum and Mohamed Ben Zina, dir., Jeunes de Douar Hicher et d’Ettadhamen. Une enquête sociologique. Tunis: Arabesques / International Alert, 2015. Jadaliyya (J): Qu’est-ce qui vous a fait éditer ce livre? Olfa Lamloum (OL) : Le projet de ce livre collectif a été conçu et soutenu dans les différentes phases de sa réalisation par International Alert (IA), une ONG internationale présente dans plus de 25 pays, qui œuvre en faveur de la consolidation de la paix et du soutien aux ...

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Those Who Want To Build, Those Who Want To Fight: The World Social Forum with a North African Twist

Holding the World Social Forum (WSF) in Tunisia, for the second time, is doubly significant. It is right on target, since Tunisians have toppled a neoliberal dictator. It is also a painful reminder of capitalism’s power, as Tunisian neoliberalism (along with the dictator’s entourage) is still intact. Not only are the main contours of Ben Ali’s policies still in place, his top bureaucrats are in command. Moreover, they have come back through elections. Voters replaced them for a secular liberal-Islamic ...

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New Texts Out Now: David McDonald, Rethinking Corporatization and Public Services in the Global South

David McDonald, editor, Rethinking Corporatization and Public Services in the Global South. London: Zed Books, 2014. Jadaliyya (J): What made you write this book? David McDonald (DMD): After three decades of privatization, we observe a growing worldwide trend of governments taking back control of services, or creating new forms of public services, with the overall number of public enterprises globally on the increase. Corporatization is one of the most popular forms of this renewed interest in ...

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Who Are the People? A Conversation on the Assemblages and the Archives of the People

Scholars of the Middle East have grappled for several decades with what seemed to be the death of “formal” or “official” politics in their attempt to explain the seemingly impenetrable force of authoritarianism and the pacification of Arab politics. Some work reified older understandings of the idea of agency and the centrality of state institutions. Others broke new ground on the idea of the individual, critically deconstructing the seemingly self-evident meaning and universal values of “freedom” and ...

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دور المجتمع المدني في الثورة التونسية. محادثة لـ"الوضع" بين فاتح عزام وعبد الباسط بن حسن

عبد الباسط بن حسن هو رئيس المعهد العربي لحقوق الإنسان. يعمل المعهد على تعزيز تعليم حقوق الإنسان في المنطقة العربية من خلال بناء المقدرات وبرامج التدريب. و هو أيضا رئيس اللجنة الوطنية التونسية لدعم اللاجئين. شغل منصب عضو في اللجنة العليا لتحقيق أهداف الثورة والإصلاح السياسي والانتقال الديمقراطي. في هذه اللجنة، شارك بن حسن في صياغة تشريعات ما بعد الثورة حول حرية تكوين الجمعيات و حرية التعبير والتجمع والانتخابات. انتخب رئيسا للمعهد العربي لحقوق الإنسان في مارس 2011.  مع خبرة عقدين ...

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‘I Can’t Breathe’: Are You Aware of the Uprising?

It is official. The world system is in deep crisis. Corruption really does start at the top. The United States, the leader of this system, first wavered in 2011. Yet another wave of protests shook the US from July to December 2014. At the “Occupy” protests three years ago, the system’s inequitable economic dimensions came to the fore. At the end of last year, its political-racial dimensions drew attention. Almost simultaneously, Europe witnessed the rise of anti-Muslim mass sentiment. Right-wing street ...

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Maghreb Media Roundup (December 21)

[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 maghreb@jadaliyya.com by Thursday night of every week] Algeria   Appel au meurtre contre Kamel Daoud A Salafi imam called for the assassination of Kamel Daoud, an award winning journalist and novelist ...

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'Nefes alamiyorum': Baskaldirinin farkinda misiniz?

'Nefes alamıyorum': Başkaldırının farkında mısınız? Artık tescillendi. Dünya sistemi derin bir krizde. Balık baştan kokarmış. Sistemin önderi Amerika Birleşik Devletleri ilk olarak 2011’de sallanmıştı. Şimdi ayaklanmalar yine hayatı kilitlemeye doğru gidiyor. Temmuz’dan Aralık’a radikal sokak eylemleri durulmadı. Üç yıl önceki “İşgal Et” eylemlerinde sistemin ekonomik, eşitsizlikçi boyutu ön plana çıkmıştı. Bugün siyasi boyutu dikkat çekiyor. Neresinden tutsanız, devam ettirilemeyecek bir neoliberal ...

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The Quest for a Way Out of Tunisia’s Constitutional Quagmire

Successfully passing the tests of democracy while the whole region seems to be doomed to a chronic state of turmoil, Tunisia is considered to have set a good example for the “Arab Spring” countries and is expected to prove that a happy ending is actually possible. In fact, Tunisia has come a long way from the shadows of the police state to the perspective of a sustainable democracy. And it is Tunisian political life that has witnessed the biggest shift from a vegetative state to an interesting and ...

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Beyond Uncritical Optimism: The Challenges for Transitional Tunisia

Tunisia will go to the polls on 26 October in order to decide the composition of the new parliament and the new political balance that will determine the next phases of political transition. Since the uprising, there have been many and important steps toward real political and institutional change. Indeed, Tunisia has undergone a process of policy change involving the liberalization of political landscape, the subsequent participation of new political forces in the electoral process, the marginalization ...

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