Materialities of the (Local) State: Municipal Encounters in Southern Tunisia

By Lana Salman
Submitted to Session P5891 (Decentralization and Local Governance in Tunisia, 2020 Annual Meeting
LCD Projector without Audio;
What do newly established municipalities, in localities previously managed by rural councils, make visible about the materialities of the local state in post-revolution Tunisia? In this presentation, I share my ethnography of the newly established municipalities of El Fouar, Rjim Maatoug in the governorate of Kebili, and Hazoua in the governorate of Tozeur. These municipalities created in the context of Tunisia’s municipalization program are all located at the frontier – a literal frontier where a vast uninhabited desert slowly encroached on human habitation, a political frontier with a neighboring sovereign country, Algeria, and a socio-spatial frontier of state-remaking after revolution. I argue that at this frontiers, municipalities enact space-state making, technologies of rule rooted in colonial and post-colonial histories of governing the frontier.