Tunisian revolutions: Reflections on seas, coasts, and interiors

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Abstract

In December 2010 an out-of-work Tunisian street vendor, Mohamed Bouazizi, set himself on fire and precipitated the Arab Spring. Popular interpretations of Bouazizi’s self-immolation presented economic and political oppression by the Ben Ali regimes as the root causes of widespread social despair that triggered the Tunisian revolution. Yet as Julia Clancy-Smith points out, Tunisia’s long history of organized political activism and protest movements suggests a far more complicated set of processes. Proposing a conceptual framework of “coastalization” vs. “interiorization," Clancy-Smith examines Tunisia’s last two centuries and demonstrates how geographical and environmental and social factors also lie behind that country’s modern political history. Within this framework Clancy-Smith explores how Tunisia’s coast became a Mediterranean playground for transnational elites, a mecca of tourism, while its interior agrarian regions suffered increasing neglect and marginalization. This distinction has had a profound impact on the fate of Tunisia and has manifested itself in divisive debates over politics, the state, and religion as well as women’s socio-legal status that have led to a series of mass civic actions culminating in revolution. Clancy-Smith proposes a fresh historical lens through which to view the relationship between spacial displacements, regionalization, and transnationalism. Georgetown Shorts-longer than an article, shorter than a book-deliver timely works of peer-reviewed scholarship in a fast-paced, agile environment. They present new ideas and original texts that are easily and widely available to students, scholars, libraries, and general readers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
PublisherGeorgetown University Press
Number of pages46
ISBN (Electronic)9781626162136
StatePublished - Jan 1 2014

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ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)

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