Post-Arab Spring Tunis: Materialising Revolution in the City
Despite the overwhelming presence of the Arab city in the Arab Spring, most analyses in the Arab Spring literature are marked by the absence of the urban dimension of the demands for freedom, dignity and justice. This presentation will explore the implications of the Arab Spring on Arab cities, through investigating the city of Tunis. Though the Tunisian Revolution began in Sidi Bouzid, it was in the country’s capital where it ultimately prevailed. A level of political and cultural plurality has emerged in the eight years since the flight of former President Ben Ali. This plurality may be due to the weak Tunisian state or a lack of ideological direction of the revolution. Regardless, the void at the centre, symbolically and materially located in Tunis, has facilitated the transformation of existing urban conflicts through significant sites—museums, martyr’s squares, the medina, objects of the old regime, etc.—in the city. Through foregrounding the city as the lens through which to understand revolution, this research aims to move beyond pathological and orientalist perspectives of the Arab city. Tunis, as a site of revolution in the 21st century, may herald a new paradigm in this regard.
Dena Qaddumi is a PhD candidate in the Department of Architecture, where she is a member of the Centre for Urban Conflicts Research. Prior to starting her PhD, Dena worked in architecture, urban planning and higher education in New York, London, Palestine and Doha.