SUMMARY:Commemorations of historical events, such as popular uprisings and revolutions, reinforce the idea of one particular starting point. In doing so, they obscure the conjunctural dimensions of these moments, dislocating from the broader historical and political processes and structures in which they are located. The same can be said about the decolonization moment, which mainstream historiographies represent as having specific starting and endpoints. Thinking of history as a linear series of distinct chapters shapes the way scholars may determine categories such as colonial and postcolonial, colonized and independent, subjugated and sovereign as clear-cut, mistaking their analytical function for their actual empirical distinctiveness. An a priori commitment to thinking about history and historical time in terms of brakes, ruptures, and discontinuities may do more to distort than to clarify. Approaching institutions, systems, and structures of power that have been developed over centuries as phenomena that have lives as well as afterlives may help us to demystify the seeming incomprehensibility of the contemporary human condition.
Bringing together different theoretical and methodological approaches as well as empirical cases, this interdisciplinary panel will seek 1) to set the theoretical and methodological foundations for a conjunctural analysis of the popular uprisings in North Africa, and explore the implications of their contextualization within broader (geo)political, social and economic contexts in Algeria and Tunisia; and 2) to examine the convergences and shared interests of (geo)political forces, socio-economic structures and discursive landscapes that have contributed to creating, enabling and sustaining ongoing forms of colonial-capitalist accumulation, exploitation, and dispossession in the Maghreb; and, 3) to reflect upon the modes of resistance engendered by the colonial counter-revolution in Algeria and Tunisia.