[P6482] Searching where the light fades: patterns of continuity and change in post-revolutionary Tunisia

Created by Alessandra Bonci
Thursday, 12/02/21 11:30 am


It was exactly 10 years ago that the revolution in Tunisia witnessed its first sparks. A significant number of scholars and academics focused on the 10-year mark to discuss whether the revolution was successful in terms of democratic transformation. This panel aims at distancing itself from this success/failure dichotomy and focuses on the overlooked long-term processes of socio-political transformation (Rivetti & Di Peri, 2015). In this panel, we observe that the forces that have been shaping the newborn democratic system since 2011 still dialogue with the pre-revolutionary period, according to complex dynamics of continuity and change. We note that the persistent influence of the security apparatus on identity policies, the effect of subnational dynamics on the party system, and the Islamist/secular cleavage perform a sort of continuity with pre-revolutionary tendencies in Tunisia. Conversely, it’s also important to address the ground-breaking work of the Truth and Dignity Commission and consider Islamic politics as part of the process of modern political building, which represents crucial signals of change. Our empirical studies are based on both quantitative and qualitative methods, using diverse methodologies that vary from ethnography to video-data analysis, statistical analysis, and discourse analysis. Findings reveal the complex connections among old and new political forces that influence democracy in Tunisia. These observations demonstrate that the categories of success and failure are not useful for a meaningful analysis of the social and political dynamics existing in post-revolutionary Tunisia. Building upon Lisa Anderson’s teachings (2006), we claim that discussion on Tunisian politics today should focus more on recognizing power relationships and dynamics of social and political change (or lack thereof), instead of approaching reality through normative conceptions. In conclusion, we claim that the dichotomy of failure and success is not explicative of the changes the country is undergoing, it’s necessary to observe such transformations as a dynamic process instead.


Pol Science



Francesco Cavatorta

(Universite Laval)
Panel Participating Role(s): Chair;

Fabio Merone

(independent researcher)
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;

Alessandra Bonci

(Laval University)
Panel Participating Role(s): Co-Author; Organizer;

Fabrizio Leonardo Cuccu

(Dublin City University)
Panel Participating Role(s): Organizer; Presenter;

Nathan Grubman

(Stanford University)
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;

Ameni Mehrez

(Central European University)
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;

Nada Ahmed

(Transitional Justice Insitute)
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;
Bonci, Alessandra (Laval University) - Abstract Second Author