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New Texts Out Now: Andrea Khalil, Crowds and Politics in North Africa: Tunisia, Algeria, and Libya

[Cover of Andrea Khalil,

Andrea Khalil, Crowds and Politics in North Africa: Tunisia, Algeria, and Libya. London: Routledge, 2014. Jadaliyya (J): What made you write this book?             Andrea Khalil (AK): In the fall of 2010, I was researching a book on the 5 October 1988 riots in Algeria. I was in France and Algeria from July-December 2010 looking for documents, archives, photos, testimonies, and literature about the riots. The events in Tunisia in the middle of December 2010 made it clear that there would be a contemporary context in which to study riots, and in Tunisia in particular. I then changed the topic and became focused ...

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Djerba, Tunisia: Garbage Disposal, the Environmental Crisis, and the Awakening of Ecoconsciousness

[An Italian restaurant-owner chains herself to a traffic sign to protest the burning of trash in front of her property in Djerba. Image via mosaiquefm.]

Djerba is an island in the south of Tunisia, often referred to as “the island of dreams.” In Homer’s Odyssey, Djerba is the enchanting land of the lotus-eaters; the land whose flowers charmed the companions of Odysseus and made them forget all thoughts of return. Today Djerba is one of Tunisia’s top tourist destinations. Home to al-Ghriba, Africa’s oldest synagogue, the island annually attracts hundreds of Jewish pilgrims from all over the world. Djerba also boasts fifteen centers of thalassotherapy and is branding itself more and more as a bio-friendly destination. For the past few weeks, however, tension has been mounting in the island over what seems to be the worst ...

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Mohamed Bouazizi, l'ouvrier agricole : Relire la « révolution » depuis les campagnes tunisiennes

[Des habitants de la région de Sidi Bouzid occupent une terre agricole qui a été saisie par la banque et revendue aux enchères en juillet 2010, Regueb. Image par S. Rouissi.]

Bouazizi, l'autre histoire On pourrait commencer l'histoire au début des années 2000. Mohamed, orphelin de son père, devient responsable de sa fratrie et doit subvenir aux besoins de sa famille. Lorsque son oncle maternel, Salah, achète une terre agricole de 18 hectares dans la région de Regueb (gouvernorat de Sidi Bouzid, Tunisie), Mohamed commence à travailler sur l'exploitation. Lui, Salah et d'autres membres de la famille ainsi que des ouvriers saisonniers s'occupent des oliviers et des cultures maraîchères irriguées (tomates, melons). Le projet semble bien lancé, profitant de l'eau souterraine de bonne qualité et du micro-climat qui fait la réputation de cette ...

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'Mind the Gap: Bridging Knowledge and Practices of Activism' at the Fourth Arab Bloggers Meeting

[Image from the Fourth Arab Bloggers Meeting in Amman, Jordan. Image courtesy of Hisham Almiraat/Flickr.]

Since the political movements known as the Arab Uprisings erupted in late 2010, some of them leading to the toppling of a handful of long-lived authoritarian regimes in the area, the influence of networked communication technologies on social change and activism has taken center stage in an animated debate spanning across multiple communities and discussion sites. More specifically, the Internet, because of the participatory and social dimensions suggested by web 2.0[1] platforms and social networking sites (SNS), has often been depicted and celebrated as if it were a quintessential technology of freedom. This way, the Internet was quickly turned into the ideal ...

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Séminaire: Quel modèle de décentralisation des services urbains en Tunisie? (6 juin, Tunis)

[Outline of Tunisia. Image by Mdesignstudio via Shutterstock]

Vendredi 6 juin 2014, 8h30-17h30, Hôtel Golden Tulip, El-Mechtel, Tunis Conférence organisée par l’Association Tunisienne des Urbanistes, la Direction Générale des Collectivités Locales (ministère de l’Intérieur) et l’Unité de Recherche Droit et Gouvernance. La question territoriale a été au cœur de la révolution tunisienne. Les déséquilibres régionaux et les difficultés d’accès à l’emploi et aux services ont dès lors fait partie des thèmes les plus médiatisés sur la scène politique de l’après 14 janvier 2011. La décentralisation a rapidement figuré comme un principe phare des réformes, d’abord dans les programmes des principaux partis en course vers la ...

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

[Cover of

Andrea Khalil, editor, Women, Gender, and the Arab Spring, special issue of The Journal of North African Studies 19.2 (2014). Forthcoming as a book with Routledge. 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 activism in the new context. The book I was working on at that time was not specifically about gender dynamics, but I wound up conducting a lot of interviews with women and following gender-related debates ...

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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 أغراضهن ولوحقن كالساحرات بعد إغلاق مواخير كل من سوسة وباجة والقيروان. تجدر الاشارة إلى أن الدولة في تونس هي التي أخذت على عاتقها تنظيم وتأطير هذه المهنة. فالمواخير المذكورة ...

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About Human Breakage and Fragility

[ Drawing by the Jordanian artist Hasan Mnasra]

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, undescribed, and puzzling in the voice of Sarmak,” a schizophrenic innovation by itself, was the title of the novel.  Nezar read the title, flipped a few pages before he put ...

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

[Habib Ellouze and Mongi Rahoui embrace one another following the passing of Tunisia's new constitution. Screenshot from Tunisian state media.]

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 parties involved in the “National Dialogue" agreed that Jomaa’s government has a mandate to focus its attention on the economy and battling insecurity in the months ...

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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 الالتزام بضوابط الحملات الانتخابية والإشهار السياسي. ورغم توفر الأدلة الموثقة لدى المراقبين إلا أن خلو القانون الانتخابي من بنود حاسمة بخصوص العقوبات الرادعة لهذه ...

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The Janet Abu-Lughod I Knew

[Janet Abu-Loghod speaking at the IASTE conference, Berkeley, 1990. Photo courtesy of IASTE.]

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 Middle Eastern Studies. But, for me, she was the Janet who fell in love with Cairo of the 1960s, and who wrote Cairo: 1001 Years of the City Victorious, a magnificent book ...

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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 من التغلب على كليشيهات العهود السابقة، فعرف حراك تونس الشعبي (17 ديسمبر 2010 - 14 جانفي 2011) بثورة الياسمين، اسم رقيق كصوت ماجدة الرومي، ومن ثم تحول إلى نسيم من نسائم ...

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New Texts Out Now: Linda Herrera, Revolution in the Age of Social Media: The Egyptian Popular Insurrection and the Internet

Linda Herrera, Revolution in the Age of Social Media: The Egyptian Popular Insurrection and the Internet. London and New York: Verso, 2014. Jadaliyya (J): What made you write this book? Linda Herrera (LH): In the months prior to the Arab uprisings, I had been conducing research on Egypt’s “wired generation”—their social media habits, ways of doing politics, and networks. When it became known that Egypt’s popular mobilization on 25 January 2011 was launched from a Facebook page, I literally found myself ...

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Maghreb Media Roundup (July 26)

[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 Algeria Plane Crash Site Found in Mali With No Survivors After an extensive search effort, the crash site of Air Algerie Flight 5017, which ...

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Tunisia: The Collective Making of a Constitution

Tunisia’s National Constituent Assembly (NCA) session held on 26 January 2014 did not put an end to disagreements among its members. However, it did represent the culmination of the work done by members. These members were elected by people on 23 October 2011 to draft the provisions of the Constitution of the Tunisian Republic. The draft was ratified during the January session. The ratification of the constitution has thus pushed quarrels and political conflicts among assembly members from center stage ...

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Turbulent Muslim Renaissance in Tunisia: Interview with Ennahda's Yusra Ghannouchi

The political transformations that occurred after the Arab Spring saw the emergence of political Islam with new force. This occurred not only in Tunisia, where the revolutions began, but more widely in the whole Middle East and North Africa region. More than three years after Ben Ali’s fall, Islamists are still part of political processes in Tunisia, whereas in some other places (like Egypt) their role in politics has been significantly restricted. This interview with Dr. Yusra Ghannouchi, the ...

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Tunisian Heritage is Not for Sale: Privatization Threatens Country’s Historic Sites

In a rather low-key, overlooked way, the Tunisian Minister of Culture, Mourad Sakli, announced yesterday on a radio program on Jawhara FM that the ministry plans on privatizing Tunisian heritage sites. The plan is to have private companies lease the sites for periods of twenty-five to thirty years. The minister justified the privatization plan by referencing the dire state of affairs over at the Tunisian National Heritage Institute. Namely, how the Institute only has six offices (in a total of ...

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

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 ...

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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 ...

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In Conversation with Artist Nadia Ayari

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 ...

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Jihadism and Contraband on Tunisia's Borders

 [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 ...

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

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 ...

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The Tunisian Constitution: The Process and the Outcome

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 ...

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عن الكسر والهشاشة الإنسانيين

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 ...

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