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The Force of Obedience. The Political Economy of Repression in Tunisia

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Abstract

The events that took place in Tunisia in January 2011 were the spark igniting the uprisings that swept across North Africa and the Middle East, toppling dictators and leading to violent conflict and tense stand-offs. What was it about this small country in North Africa that enabled it to play this exceptional role?This book is a deeply informed account of the exercise of power in Tunisia in the run-up to the revolt that forced its authoritarian ruler, Ben Ali, into exile. It analyses the practices of domination and repression that were pervasive features of everyday life in Tunisia, showing how the debt economy and the systems of social solidarity and welfare created forms of subjection and mutual dependence between rulers and ruled, enabling the reader to understand how a powerful protest movement could develop despite tight control by police and party. For those wishing to understand the extraordinary events unfolding across the Arab world, this rich, subtle and insightful book is the indispensable starting point.
... Based on the arguments of Hmed and Yousfi, scholars have come to assign a pivotal overall role to UGTT in the revolutionary process. This chimes with findings on the weakness of other civil society and opposition groups under Ben Ali (Camau and Geisser, 2003;Hibou, 2011a;Hudáková, 2019), meaning that there was simply "no other force available ". 7 However, this explanation for the creation of RMM -especially in light of the weakness of others -entails very strong claims on what local trade unionists and the resources they commanded were able to achieve. Finally, the studies empirically corroborating these claims do so only through interviews with trade unionists, disallowing for conclusive assessment of whether subalterns without prior activist experience would confirm their leadership role. ...
... As Ben Ali came to power, postcolonial authoritarian legitimacy built around the charismatic leadership of Bourguiba as the deliverer of independence was waning and the regime sought to replace it with a narrative built around a reformist government that brought social and economic development (Camau and Geisser, 2003;Hibou, 2011a). This was combined with preserving certain promises of the Bourguiba era -such as social mobility through education guaranteed by public sector employment, and state social provisions -which, in the face of neoliberal reforms, proved increasingly difficult to maintain (Achy, 2015). ...
... In addition, my interlocutors said that they were actively discriminated against by the administration when applying for public sector jobs, permits, or the allocation of social benefits. This is significant because these mechanisms of inclusion operating through the political economy were argued to have effectively ensured support for the regime (Hibou, 2011a). That this was not the case for young men in the interior was expressed by Naoufel Abbassi, a 38-year-old from Menzel Bouzaiane, who is now an elementary school teacher but had been previously excluded because of his regional origin. ...
Thesis
How and where did mass mobilization for radical demands emerge in the process of the 2010/11 Tunisian revolution? And how can this inform theories of revolution, especially considering conditions of hegemony? These questions were addressed using secondary and archival sources as well as an event catalogue to identify time periods, localities and social groups for ethnographic study, leading to a focus on subaltern social groups, primarily in the provincial interior, where eight months of fieldwork and over one hundred open, narrative interviews were conducted. The thesis argues that provincial subalterns responded to their hegemonic disincorporation and increased policing during the Ben Ali regime by developing new forms of politics and resistance. Entailing interactions with political activists and unionists as well as significant levels of self-activity, this process furnished local solidarities, defensive logics, and principally economic-corporate claims which drove mobilization in the Tunisian interior during the first three weeks of the revolution. For the people there, indiscriminate violence and killings caused a collapse of existing hegemony, leading them to re-interpret their struggle in revolutionary terms by drawing on local histories of revolt. This revolutionary praxis of subaltern social groups and the radical demands they articulated pushed UGTT leaders and coastal middle-classes to turn against Ben Ali, thus creating national-level revolutionary mobilization. From this it is concluded that scholarship on the Tunisian revolution has assigned undue weight to organized and activist agencies while largely ignoring subaltern self-activity. It also suggests that Tunisian studies had overplayed the social and regional reach of the Ben Ali era hegemonic formation. The conclusion that revolutionary praxis developed among disincorporated subaltern groups in Tunisia further intervenes in studies of subaltern politics which have tended to posit everyday politics, hidden resistance, and defensive mobilization as a certain ceiling to subaltern self-activity. Addressing critical theories of revolution, the thesis concludes that self-change through revolutionary praxis appears possible in the context of a contemporary hegemonic formation, pointing to potentials for subaltern self-emancipation. Absent significant (organic) intellectual labor and organizational resources, however, revolutionary transformation will likely be limited by persistent forms of domination, counter-revolutionary forces and hegemonic ideas.
... In some extreme cases, U.K. and U.S. government agents and their informants built personal relations-including sex-with targeted activists under false pretenses to infiltrate and disrupt activist groups. Not only do states have an arsenal of repressive tools at their disposal (McPhail and McCarthy 2005;Soule and Davenport 2009), there has also been a rise in tactical innovations of repression (King and Waddington 2006;de Lint and Hall 2009;Rafail 2010;Hibou 2011;O'Brien and Deng 2013), including "a range of subtle but painful sanctions" (Slater and Fenner 2011, p. 22) conducted by both government agents and nongovernment third parties, such as ridicule, stigma, and silencing (Ferree 2005). ...
... A new stream of research challenges the hypothesis that authoritarian states derive repressive power from structural conditions (Nathan 2003;Mann 2008;Blaydes 2011;Dimitrov 2013;Lee and Zhang 2013;Lorentzen 2013). Future studies could benefit from expanding the spectrum of repressive operations to include not only punishments but also awards, inducements, and attractions (Hibou 2011;O'Brien and Deng 2013). ...
Article
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Existing research has focused on the extent to which transnational interventions compel recalcitrant governments to reduce levels of domestic repression, but few have considered how such interventions might also provoke new forms of repression. Using a longitudinal study of repression against AIDS activism in China between 1989 and 2013, the author proposes that transnational institutions' provision of material resources and reshaping of organizational rules can transform a domestic repressive apparatus in specific policy areas. The intervention of transnational AIDS institutions not only constrained traditional violent coercion but also generated new forms of "diplomatic repression" through (1) changing repressive motives by moving AIDS from the margin to the center of mainstream politics and (2) supplying resources, networks, and models of action that enabled government organizations to reformulate health social organizations as new repressive actors with innovative repertoires of strategies inside and outside China's territory.
... In some extreme cases, U.K. and U.S. government agents and their informants built personal relations-including sex-with targeted activists under false pretenses to infiltrate and disrupt activist groups. Not only do states have an arsenal of repressive tools at their disposal (McPhail and McCarthy 2005;Soule and Davenport 2009), there has also been a rise in tactical innovations of repression (King and Waddington 2006;de Lint and Hall 2009;Rafail 2010;Hibou 2011;O'Brien and Deng 2013), including "a range of subtle but painful sanctions" (Slater and Fenner 2011, p. 22) conducted by both government agents and nongovernment third parties, such as ridicule, stigma, and silencing (Ferree 2005). ...
... A new stream of research challenges the hypothesis that authoritarian states derive repressive power from structural conditions (Nathan 2003;Mann 2008;Blaydes 2011;Dimitrov 2013;Lee and Zhang 2013;Lorentzen 2013). Future studies could benefit from expanding the spectrum of repressive operations to include not only punishments but also awards, inducements, and attractions (Hibou 2011;O'Brien and Deng 2013). ...
Article
Full-text available
Existing research has focused on the extent to which transnational interventions compel recalcitrant governments to reduce levels of domestic repression, but few have considered how such interventions might also provoke new forms of repression. Using a longitudinal study of repression against AIDS activism in China between 1989 and 2013, the author proposes that transnational institutions’ provision of material resources and reshaping of organizational rules can transform a domestic repressive apparatus in specific policy areas. The intervention of transnational AIDS institutions not only constrained traditional violent coercion but also generated new forms of “diplomatic repression” through (1) changing repressive motives by moving AIDS from the margin to the center of mainstream politics and (2) supplying resources, networks, and models of action that enabled government organizations to reformulate health social organizations as new repressive actors with innovative repertoires of strategies inside and outside China’s territory.
... Legally-recognized bodies enjoyed both state subsidies and formal representation in governing institutions -specifically the Chamber of Advisors, where representatives of these corporatist units were allotted one third of the seats (Majlis al-Mustashariin, 2011). The regime also worked to co-opt Tunisia's historicallypowerful labor federation, the Union générale tunisienne du travail (Hibou, 2011). ...
... Similarities between North African autocrats' discourses of democracy and those of their revolutionary opponents raise the question -do the mechanisms of appropriation used by autocratic political elites create a discursive opportunity structure that opposition activists can use to press for reform? Historical studies show that, during the colonial period, North African nationalists used French liberal discourses of liberty, equality, and fraternity to critique colonial rule (e.g., Malley, 1996) and some area experts argue that the 2011 uprisings may have been a direct result of the dissonance between leaders' democratic discourses and their autocratic practices (e.g., Hibou, 2011;Ritter 2015). However, given the long history of social movements in the Arab world agitating for democracy and the historically high rates of support for democracy among Arabs (Chalcraft, 2016;Tessler et al., 2012;Thompson, 2013), it is possible that the North African leaders' appropriated discourses and the 2011 uprisings were both results of ongoing pressure from local populations. ...
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Political actors across the globe often use the language of democracy, butthey do not all use the same language. Drawing on content analysis of 1,935speeches given between 2000 and 2010, this study examines how five NorthAfrican autocrats appropriated the global discursive form of democracy byaltering its content. These leaders proposed that the special circumstancesof each country preclude any one-size-fits-all global definition ofdemocracy, whose imposition in their countries, they claim, would beinappropriate, ineffective, or dangerous. Through their speeches, theserulers redefined democracy by engaging in active ideological work, weavingtogether discourses that combined global norms, state interests, and localvalues. This suggests that, in addition to being a benchmark by which tomeasure modes of governance, “democracy” is also a language game playedbetween actors on a global stage. By synthesizing theoretical frameworksdrawn from world polity and social movement studies traditions, this studyshows that peripheral actors may adapt global discourses purposefully andstrategically rather than encountering them as passive participants in apurely mimetic cultural diffusion process. This has implications for a widerange of global norms that are open to appropriation by local actorsdrawing on domestic and external political developments and experiences.
... When this type of economic development ended and neo-liberal reforms were introduced without corresponding changes to political structures, a deadly combination of economic dedevelopment and arbitrary political rule alienated many from the regimes in power. In addition, the picture of growth that was projected internationally, however unequal it might have been, was often the outcome of highly dubious statistics and bookkeeping (Hibou, 2011). Ultimately, as we will see in more detail in Chapter 9, these regimes increasingly relied on the military and security services to stave off growing dissent, and became even less representative of their populations in the process. ...
... Roger Owen and Sevket Pamuk (1998) make the important observation that there are real problems with available statistical data on the Middle East, both in terms of how they are collected and, very often, in terms of what is attempted to be measured. This point has been reiterated more recently by Hibou (2011) in her work on the supposed Tunisian economic miracle of the 1990s and 2000s. National income statistics record only activities to which monetary value can be attached and, as a consequence, ignore much of what goes on in the domestic sphere, especially work done by women. ...
... Ben Ali's Democratic Constitutionalist Rally (RCD), despite claiming to be the vanguard of a pluralistic form of modernization, had functioned mainly to surveil citizens, disseminate political propaganda, and dispense patronage. 2 Prior to the uprising, most Tunisians had studiously avoided opposition parties, and in 2011 the average person knew little either about the country's parties or about the theoretical virtues of these institutions. Allowing Tunisians to participate in mass politics outside the framework of the RCD was a widely held goal, and the number of legal parties multiplied from nine to 110 in 2011. ...
... For Hibou this 'central technology of power' persuaded citizens they too had adopted measures introduced by the state and weakened perceptions of authoritarian political constraint. 50 Consensus was fashioned as an element of national identity that meant accepting the regime's way of governing as well as its definition of and policies towards those outside the consensus, like al-Nahda, who were heavily repressed. ...
Article
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Tunisia's transition away from authoritarianism has been shaped by a politics of consensus, which has brought together representatives of the former regime with their historic adversary, the Islamist movement al-Nahda. This article argues that consensus politics was a legacy of the authoritarian regime that was re-produced during a democratizing transition. The politics of consensus was encouraged and enabled by al-Nahda, which prioritized its inclusion within this elite settlement to provide political security for itself and the broader transition. However, this came at a cost, engineering a conservative transition, which did not pursue significant social or economic reform. The Tunisian case shows that historical legacies, such as consensus politics, can shape a transition as much as contingent, pragmatic decisions by political leaders.
... These qualities underwrite a narrative of Tunisia's liberal-secular exceptionalism among Arab nations, which has been central to both its postcolonial identity and its national security rationale. During fifty-five years of authoritarian rule, President Bourguiba and his successor Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali repeatedly invoked the need to preserve Tunisia's unique moderation to justify state violence, eradicating political Islam and brutally disciplining all but the most benign and state-sanctioned forms of religious expression (Hibou 2011). ...
Article
In this article, I examine the politics of kin-work performed by families of Tunisian foreign combatants, whose sons were recruited to jihadi militias following the 2011 Arab Spring. Here, I refer to a form of affective labor that engenders kinship relations through the performance of intentional acts. In the context of postrevolutionary Tunisia, where the state is currently embroiled in a domestic war against terror, families of foreign combatants perform such kin-work to make a moral claim on the state to assist them in repatriating their sons. In doing so, they must work against security discourses that define their sons as terrorists, thereby excising them from the rights-bearing category of the human. Nevertheless, kin-work is more than just a political strategy. I thus also attend to more intimate registers of kin-work, where it serves as a method for inhabiting uncertainty and providing care for absent kin.
... Survival has been seen as an effect of governmentality, signalling accom- modation, not resistance, to a successfully imposed neoliberal agenda (Chabal 2009). 10 Some have also argued that the relative absence of the state facilitates the creation of mechanisms of domination where the state and the effects of a particular political economy transcend private life (Chabal 2009;Hibou 2011b; see also: Meddeb 2011). Subjection, or at least, negotiation, is henceforth the key for surviving domination, but may not be seen as a form of resistance. ...
... 57 Hiboua greesi nt he contexto fT unisiat hat" ther eal transformation[ of the2 011u prisings], whichi sw ithout anyd oubt a fundamentalone,resides in thedisappearance of fear." 58 Beinin further remarks that, "[d]espite their weakness in the first post-Mubarak parliament and the presidential contest, in addition to their lack of political unity,independent trade unions are nonetheless the strongest nationally organized force" that can resist the triumvirate of authoritarian military power,lingering elements of the Mubarak regime, and "the failed market fundamentalist policies that Egypt will be under pressure to maintain in order to receive needed assistance from international financial institutions." 59 Beinin and Vairel are right to focus on workers and highlight the "failed market fundamentalist policies" missing from narratives of corporate media and corporate academia. ...
Chapter
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"Important work is already being done to confront the Arab Spring narrative and the “non-narrative” [what Mbembe terms Africa as "nothingness"] of Africa on their own terms. In addition to excellent chapters in the current volume, Manji and Ekine have, for example, written a highly critical in-depth volume contrasting the “African Awakenings” directly with the Arab Spring narrative, invoking 30 years of resistance against neoliberalism. I look at a different facet, arguing that these narratives were never meant as reflections, however flawed or incomplete, on lived realities of oppression and uprisings in Egypt or Burkina Faso. Rather, they are corporate media representations that serve to keep those residing in “consuming spaces” perceptually distant from Egypt, Tunisia, Bahrain, the African continent, and other “productive margins.” In this chapter, I concentrate on neoliberalism as a key contested space that directly impacts the lived space of people in Burkina Faso and Egypt and is therefore critical for understanding repression, resistance, and potentials for revolution in these areas. In both areas, neoliberalism as spectacle is employed to legitimize disciplinary regimes of debt that justify government implementation of austerity to control populations in the interest of facilitating expropriation of productive resources. Such coercive expropriation has led to generations of resistance in both Egypt and Burkina Faso."
... It secured an approximately 4 or 5 percent growth rate annually while capping inflation (at 5 percent) and also the budget deficit (at 3 percent) (Cavatorta and Haugbølle 2012, 183-84). This growth occurred following extensive neoliberal reform through which new wealth families profited from investing in tourism, banking, and electricity (Cavatorta and Durac 2009, 27;Hibou 2011;Murphy 1999). ...
Article
Why do autocrats retain some elites as core, long-term members of their ruling coalitions for years, while others are dismissed in months? How and why might the type of elites retained within coalitions vary across time and different autocrats? Although what constitutes an authoritarian regime’s ruling coalition varies across countries, often including the military and dominant parties, this article focuses on one critical subcomponent of it—an autocrat’s cabinet and his elite advisors within it, his ministers. Because coalitions function opaquely to prevent coups, scholars consider their inner-workings a black box. We shed light through an original, exhaustive dataset from the Middle East of all 212 ministers who advised Tunisian autocrats from independence until regime collapse (1956–2011). Extracting data from Arabic sources in Tunisian national archives, we track variation in minister retention to identify which elites autocrats made core, long-term advisors within ruling coalitions. Whereas Tunisia’s first autocrat retained elites as ministers due to biographical similarities, capacity to represent influential social groups, and competence, its second autocrat did not. He became more likely to dismiss types of elites retained under the first autocrat, purging his coalition of ministers perceived to be potential insider-threats due to their favored status under his predecessor.
... In many respects, scholars of Middle East political economy have already attuned us to these questions and concerns. Insightful work by these scholars illuminated the impact of globalization, colonialism, security, and great-power politics on the region's domestic economies and its citizens (Bellin 2002;Brand 1995;Cammett 2010;Chaudhry 1997;Hanieh 2011;Hibou 2011;Mitchell 2002;Moore 2009;Richards and Waterbury 1998;Soliman 2011;Vitalis 1995). If the trajectory of mainstream IPE has been to favor studying those who steer the helm of the global economy, research by these scholars has provided a better understanding of those on its receiving end in the region. ...
Article
International Political Economy and the New Middle East - Volume 50 Issue 3 - Erin A. Snider
... Januar' in die Analyse mit einbezogen werden. Zwar ist es richtig dass niemand die Ereignisse des arabischen Frühlings vorhergesehen hat (Anderson 2011;Gause 2011;Hibou 2011) und dass selbst die Organisatoren der anfänglichen Proteste am 25. Januar 2011, dem nationalen Feiertag zu Ehren der Polizei, nicht mit einem solchen Verlauf gerechnet haben. ...
Chapter
Providing a longue durée perspective on the Arab uprisings of 2011, Benoît Challand narrates the transformation of citizenship in the Arab Middle East, from a condition of latent citizenship in the colonial and post-independence era to the revolutionary dynamics that stimulated democratic participation. Considering the parallel histories of citizenship in Yemen and Tunisia, Challand develops innovative theories of violence and representation that view cultural representations as calls for a decentralized political order and democratic accountability over the security forces. He argues that a new collective imaginary emerged in 2011 when the people represented itself as the only legitimate power able to decide when violence ought to be used to protect all citizens from corrupt power. Shedding light upon uprisings in Yemen and Tunisia, but also elsewhere in the Middle East, this book offers deeper insights into conceptions of violence, representation, and democracy.
Article
Non-party ministers and technocrats have emerged as leading political actors in post-revolutionary Tunisia. Five heads of government out of eight appointed between 2011 and 2020 were not affiliated to any political party. Technocrat-led governments were appointed amidst acute political crises due to their ostensible technical expertise and non-partisan profile. Despite their prominent role in government, existing studies on post-revolutionary Tunisia have largely neglected the role of non-party ministers and technocrats, treating them as relatively marginal actors. The article situates their emergence along a decades-long technocratic turn started under Ben Ali, which opted to replace the professional politicians of the Bourguiba era with technocrats hailing from the public administration. After 2011, a combination of demand- and supply-side factors have contributed to their increased participation in government. In particular, the article argues that the institutional autonomy of the technocratic apparatus, weakness of political parties, a preference for technical expertise and consensual politics, and pressures from international financial institutions were key to the rise of non-party ministers and technocrats in post-revolutionary Tunisia.
Article
In this paper, I examine how public art projects in the Medina of Tunis “stay in the game,” a reference to the (social) media management strategies that projects pursue to attract and keep funding. Following the 2011 “Arab Spring,” revolution, known locally as the thawra, a vibrant public art scene has formed centered in the Medina of Tunis, the highly visible but economically marginalized historic center of the city of Tunis. The formation of this public art scene is due largely to a post‐revolution influx of foreign development funding. The public art scene in the Medina of Tunis, bolstered by social media, has been widely articulated as providing visibility to marginalized communities through participatory methods. I argue that this claim paradoxically obscures the diverse lifestyles and imaginaries of the communities that public art projects aim to benefit. This paradox is rooted in both a history of mediating the historic city as an image of a modern nation, and public art's dependency on foreign funding, which draws it into maintaining foreign neoliberal interests while expressing these interests as essentially local. Meanwhile, improvements in the material conditions for residents of the Medina, expressed in terms of mirtah(comfort), remain elusive.
Article
The 'Arab Spring' has come to symbolise defeated hopes for democracy and social justice in the Middle East. In this book, Jamie Allinson demonstrates how these defeats were far from inevitable. Rather than conceptualising the 'Arab Spring' as a series of failed revolutions, Allinson argues it is better understood as a series of successful counter-revolutions. By comparing the uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt, Syria, Bahrain, Libya and Yemen, this book shows how these profoundly revolutionary situations were overturned by counter-revolutions. Placing the fate of the Arab uprisings in a global context, Allinson reveals how counter-revolutions rely on popular support and cross borders to forge international alliances. By connecting the Arab uprisings to the decade of global protest that followed them, this innovative work demonstrates how new forms of counter-revolution have rendered it near impossible to implement political change without first enacting fundamental social transformation.
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Does electing Islamist parties help or hurt women? Due to Ennahda winning a plurality in the 2011 elections and women from all parties winning 31% of seats, Tunisia offers an opportunity to test the impact of legislator gender and Islamist orientation on women's representation. Using original 2012 surveys of 40 Tunisian parliamentarians (MPs) and 1200 citizens, we find that electing female and Islamists MPs improves women's symbolic and service responsiveness by increasing the likelihood that female citizens are aware of and contact MPs. Electing Islamist female MPs has a positive impact on women's symbolic and service responsiveness, but decreases the likelihood that men will interact with legislators. We argue that Islamist deputies are more responsive to women due to an Islamic mandate effect—that is, Islamist parties' efforts to institutionalize their constituency relations, provide services to the marginalized through direct contact with citizens, and respect norms of piety by using female parliamentarians to reach women in sex‐segregated spaces. While Islamist parties positively impact some dimensions of women's representation, they also reinforce traditional gender relations. Our results extend the literature on Islam, gender, and governance by demonstrating that quotas and party institutionalization improve women's representation in clientelistic contexts.
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This is an issue of the journal Middle East Topic and Arguments (META) dedicated to the figure of the Rebel in the context of the Arab world. Full text of the issue available here: https://doi.org/10.17192/meta.2016.6.157
Chapter
Realising the shortcomings of the various integrative processes, four MENA countries—Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt and Jordan—signed the Agadir Agreement in 2004. This agreement came into force in 2007. Not only does it aim to promote faster economic integration and coordination between its members, but also to consolidate economic liberalisation at a broader regional level and with the EU as part of the Barcelona Process.
Chapter
European decolonisation posed new uncertainties and risks for European companies with an established presence in Africa. However, some firms found not just risk but opportunities in decolonisation. By examining the activities of foreign enterprises in various African states, and their strategies to stay in Africa, various contributors explore how some European companies benefitted from features of the new international landscape, particularly those provided by development aid. The book brings together research on different European companies (most notably those of former colonial powers) and considers their work or involvement in the development field after European decolonisation. In this introduction to the book, Dimier and Stockwell show how by bringing the study of foreign companies and development aid to Africa into the same frame of analysis, the book breaks new ground. They provide an extensive review of the historiographies of business and development in the colonial and post-colonial eras, and identify key features of European, and especially British and French, post-colonial development aid. They also introduce each chapter and the key themes and questions which these chapters address.
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The Arab uprisings of 2011 led to a reassessment of comparative politics research on authoritarianism in the Middle East and North Africa. The Arab region made its way from area studies into mainstream comparative politics, and research foci have shifted towards civil-military relations and repression. Ten years later, we observe higher levels of repression across the region, reflecting a diversity of repressive trends. Advocating comprehensive research on this variation, we review recent literature that tackles various dimensions of repression in Arab autocracies. In addition to disaggregating forms and targets of repression, we call for its justifications, agents and transnational dimensions to be considered next to the implications of digital technologies of coercion. We also reflect on how repression affects the possibility of doing research and how we can investigate the proposed dimensions of repression.
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This edited volume is an open access title and assembles both the historical consciousness and transformation of the MENA region in various disciplinary and topical facets. At the same time, it aims to go beyond the MENA region, contributing to critical debates on area studies while pointing out transregional and cultural references in a broad and comparative manner. The Editors Prof. Dr Rachid Ouaissa is professor of Politics of the Middle East at the Center for Near and Middle Eastern Studies at Philipps-Universität Marburg. Prof. Dr. Friederike Pannewick is professor of Arabic Studies at the Center for Near and Middle Eastern Studies at Philipps-Universität Marburg. Dr. Alena Strohmaier is postdoctoral researcher in Media and Middle Eastern Studies at the Center for Near and Middle Eastern Studies at Philipps-Universität Marburg.
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This paper advances two arguments about environmental problems. First, it interrogates the strength and limitations of empiricist accounts of problems and issues offered by actor-network theory. Drawing on the work of C.S. Peirce, it considers how emerging environmental problems often lead to abductive inferences about the existence of hidden causes that may or may not have caused the problem to emerge. The analysis of environmental problems should be empiricist in so far as it is sceptical of the claims of those who know in advance what the problem is, but it should also be alert to processes and things that are not readily traceable or perceived. Secondly, the paper’s contention is that environmental problems almost invariably involve an encounter between unlike or disparate materials or processes. In such circumstances, the challenge is to develop a form of inquiry that is alert to both the specificity of such encounters and to the specificity of the political situations in which they come to matter.
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This chapter seeks to explain the developments of the Tunisian transitional justice process. Drawing on Norbert Elias’s ideas about social processes, it argues that dynamics of transitional justice processes can neither be understood solely in light of international norms and the “justice industry” that both shape institutionalized transitional justice projects, nor simply by examining context and the political preferences of domestic actors. Rather, these shifts are shaped by the interplay of planned processes with unplanned political and social dynamics; with a political context in flux, power shifts, and sometimes competing planned efforts in other realms. Empirically grounded in “process-concurrent” field research in post- “Arab Spring” Tunisia, the contribution shows that a technocratic/institutionalized transitional justice project can develop dynamics that are somewhat, but not entirely, independent of power shifts. However, the above interplays may lead to frictional encounters that trigger feedback loops, new processes, and new structures.
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French authors in the 19th and early 20th century often compared the colonised Muslims in the Maghreb with European children with the conclusion that they were roughly on the same developmental level. It was obvious to the French audience of the various publications that described the Muslim colonised as children or at least as child-like in many respects, that this alone already warranted the colonisation of the region, as people on the level of children could not be expected to effectually govern themselves. This infantilisation of the colonised can be observed in descriptions of what the colonised habitually consumed, as various drinking preferences and habits were explained through their allegedly childlike behaviour. It was claimed that the Muslim colonised only enjoyed sugary drinks, such as tea or absinthe, that, “like children”, they only copied the bad drinking habits of the French, and that they lacked the characteristics of maturity that supposedly regulated the danger of overconsumption among French adults. These discourses were also adapted by the elites among the colonised. The French-educated Tunisian doctor, Béchir Dinguizli, for example, stated in a 1927 article discussing the problems of the overconsumption of tea in Tunisia: “I do not need to point out, gentlemen, that the native of our country, great child by his nature, does not know moderation.” This chapter will analyse and contextualise French reports of drinking habits of the colonised in the Maghreb as inherently childlike, and place them into the wider field of descriptive mechanisms that served to dehumanise and devaluate the colonised and, as a direct consequence of this dehumanisation, to justify the continuation of the French colonisation of the region.
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In 2007, a protest movement emerged in South Yemen called the Southern Movement. At the beginning, it was a loose amalgamation of people, most of them former army personnel and state employees of the former People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen (PDRY) who had been forced out of their jobs after the southern faction lost the war in 1994. Because of the state security forces’ brutality against protesters, more and more people joined the demonstrations, and the claims began to evolve into concrete political demands, such as the restored independence of the territory that once formed the PDRY, which in 1990 unified with the Arab Republic of Yemen to form the Republic of Yemen, as a separate state. By appropriating hidden forms of resistance, such as the intentionally and unintentionally intergenerational transmission of a counternarrative, South Yemenis have strengthened the calls for independence in recent years.
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Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, and Tunisia show some common features, yet the details of their political and economic systems are different. The five countries have been categorized as authoritarian regimes, and they enjoy strategic locations for trade and economic activities along with considerable natural resources in some cases. The five countries have experienced different levels of development and social circumstances. This chapter provides in-depth systematic case-study analysis of the causes of corruption for each of the five countries, aiming to give an overview and better understanding of the causes of corruption in North Africa.
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This paper shows how the constitutional provisions related to the state of emergency and exception, although they are contained within democratic traditions, were set to operate in Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia as a mechanism of basic control and maintenance of liberal autocracies. The state of emergency model was used for the survival of regimes in times of instability and social unrest, leading in some cases to the suspension of human rights for many years. Nevertheless, these provisions were modified or lifted when the regime had to show a more convincing stake to the democratic process in 2011.
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A dominant narrative describes the postcolonial Algerian trajectory as a “revolution” which has alternately experienced a “Party-state”, the “Islamist peril”, a “civil war” then an “autocracy”—the “crisis” of the latter precipitating a “popular uprising” that caused the fall of the “raïs” and imposed a “transition”. Breaking with the doxa, this study establishes that the domination, resulting from the counter-revolution of the 1950s, is based on a praetorian state-regime complex. The critical sequence that starts with the military coup of 1992 is less a “civil war” than a fierce neoliberal restructuring giving rise to the “reinvention of tradition” of the garrison state as “organized crime”. Drawing a “strategic learning” from the success of the praetorian counterrevolution orchestrated by the Egyptian secret police in 2013, the powerful Algerian deep state has been arranging the anti-Bouteflika V street performances. Beyond an apparent radicalism, the 'hirak' contributes to freezing the authoritarian status quo: anti-political, it operates a structural avoidance of the conflicts at work in the shade of praetorian neoliberalism. Celebrating brotherhood with the army, the late counter-revolution has increased the “caging” of the Algerian people.
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The role of civil society as a democratising force, both under authoritarian regimes and during political transitions, has received renewed attention in the wake of the ‘Arab Spring’ uprisings. Considerable praise has been reserved for Tunisia, whose civil society played a prominent role in the country’s successful transition. However, as a thorough analysis of the Tunisian example illustrates, this contrasts sharply with its relatively marginal role in the pre-2011 period. Indeed, Tunisian civil society has not always been a pro-democracy force, its functions shifted with the political context, and different types of civil society organisations (CSOs) played widely different roles. Tracing the evolution of civil society in Tunisia from the establishment of the Ben Ali regime in November 1987 until after its fall in January 2011, the article develops a more nuanced and dynamic understanding of its roles before, during, and after the revolution. More specifically, it shows that before the revolution, only a handful of CSOs served as islands of political resistance, while the majority functioned as vehicles of regime resilience, helping to strengthen authoritarian rule in the country. During the revolution, members of more critical CSOs played an important supporting role in the spread, organisation, and continuation of protests. Finally, in the post-revolutionary period, former oppositional CSOs, together with a plethora of newly created CSOs, were crucial not only in successfully steering the country towards a democratic transition but also in strengthening the nascent democracy. Civil society should thus be understood in its variety and particular political context.
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It is widely accepted that military regimes break down faster than any other form of autocracy. To account for this instability, scholars have claimed that military professionalism, particularly the concern for maintaining hierarchy and cohesion, will lead the military to seek extrication sooner rather than later. Others have argued that under-institutionalization results from the limited goals set by moderator-type military interventions. However, none of these accounts help us understand the substantial variation in the duration and stability of the South American military juntas of the 1960s through the 1980s that were established by highly professionalized militaries, pursuing long-term foundational goals. Building on the new institutional turn in comparative authoritarianism, this chapter shows that the ‘standard model’ of the South American military junta that continues to inform today’s thinking about the characteristic weaknesses of military rule, achieved different levels of institutionalization across the region. More institutionalized regimes like the Brazilian or Chilean junta were better equipped to deal with the challenges of authoritarian power-sharing and control and therefore lasted significantly longer than less institutionalized regimes like the Argentinean or Peruvian junta. We argue, however, that the current literature on authoritarian institutions has difficulties accounting for this variation because it suffers from excessive voluntarism. Comparing the cases of Chile and Peru, we show instead that the institutional ‘choices’ of military rulers are not as free, that they are, in fact, constrained by historical legacies like the founding conditions of military professionalism and the military’s prior relation to party politics.
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President Barack Obama gave continuity to President Bush’s “freedom agenda”, and between 2002 and 2012, the MEPI received approximately US$580 million for more than 680 projects in 18 countries and territories through its headquarters in Washington and regional offices in Tunis and Abu Dhabi, extending to all suburban and rural regions as well as to the tribal communities. These programs “focused on political process strengthening, legal or institutional frameworks, elections management”. The uprising against Ben Ali came as no surprise to the United States and was probably expected. Washington was alert to the situation in Tunisia and in the entire Middle East. When he promised Washington a “tried-and-true strategy” to fight terrorism in 2008, President Ben Ali said himself to David Welch, Assistant Secretary of State, that the situation in Egypt was “explosive” and that “sooner or later” the Muslim Brotherhood would take power in Cairo. He added that Yemen and Saudi Arabia were facing real problems and that the whole region was “explosive”. Ahmed Maher, one of the founders and the main strategist of the April 6 Youth Movement, and Dalia Ziada made contact with the OTPOR militants in Serbia, and the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict, set up to train activists and agitators, infiltrated in Cairo in order to conduct workshops and distribute the writings of Professor Gene Sharp, such as his “198 Methods of Nonviolent Action”, a list of tactics that ranged from hunger strikes to public protests and the disclosure of the identity of secret agents. With the exception of Israel, a secular, hybrid democracy with a strong religious influence, all countries in the Middle East met the objective and subjective domestic conditions for uprisings and conspiracies by dissidents, many of whom living in exile, mainly in Europe.
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In light of their geographical proximity and crucial strategic importance, the European Union (EU) has long identified cooperation with the countries of the Mediterranean region a central priority of its external relations and has developed a complex set of policies and instruments. Yet, there is a certain academic consensus that EU external policies in the area did not live up to their original expectations, insofar as little progress was made to accomplish the proclaimed goals while the implementation of structural reforms proved to be extremely problematic. These deficiencies in EU Mediterranean policies are symptomatic of what is a greater challenge in EU external policy-making: the struggle for implementation. This book analyses the implementation of the European Neighbourhood Policy in the Mediterranean, focusing on specific programs financed under the European Neighbourhood Policy Instrument in the years before and after the Arab uprisings. Building on a comparative analysis of two Maghreb countries, Tunisia and Morocco, it provides an in-depth investigation on the role of domestic actors in constraining or providing points of opportunity for the implementation of the ENP. The book presents new empirical data and, by focusing on the role of local actors in the neighbouring countries, it offers interesting insights not only into the ENPI complex processes of implementation, but also on the challenges of the E U in the region and the state of relations with the Southern neighbourhood. Through the prism of the European Neighbourhood Policy, the book provides a window into the internal politics and relevant issues of Maghreb countries. It will therefore be a valuable resource for students and scholars of European and Mediterranean Studies, as well as those interested in EU international relations.
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This article examines the historical evolution of Tunisia’s Constitutional Democratic Rally (RCD) from its beginnings in 1987, when President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali took power, until his ousting in 2011 when the party was outlawed. I argue that the RCD evolved from a political force with wide popular support during a short democratic era (1987–89) into a repressive interest group in the 1990s, when the regime cracked down on political dissidents and popular freedoms whilst rewarding party members with lucrative benefits. In the 2000s the RCD adopted a quasi-mafiosi structure that profited the Ben Ali family, which increasingly monopolized economic and political power. Tunisia’s transformation into a near dynasty marginalized many RCD members and its wider networks, a central dynamic to understand Ben Ali’s ousting in 2011.
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