Reflections on the Tunisian Revolution and its Aftermath

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"Neoliberal Development, Protests and Mobilizations Between the Urban and Rural: Reflections on the Tunisian Revolution and its Aftermath" A public lecture delivered by Prof. Sami Zemni (Ghent University) at the Department of Middle Eastern Studies, King's College London on 7 November 2017. This presentation engages in the debate on urban contentious politics by returning to the Tunisian revolution. I reflect on how movements, provoked by neoliberal restructurings, emerged, and show how these ultimately came together to form a mass movement demanding radical political change. By analyzing the socio-spatial roots of the Tunisian revolution and by sketching the classes, social groups and movements that coalesced against authoritarian rule in early 2011, I will argue that new urban social movements have deployed new strategies of action, repertoires of contention, created new networks of solidarity and activism and how, in the end, new forms of collective mobilization and claim making are shaping the urban. However, to understand these trends I will also argue that we must re-conceptualize the urban from a relational perspective, that is, an approach that sees the urban as a relational space where movements connect and develop in relation to developments of the rural space. The interplay between urban and rural dynamics of contention seems crucial to understand the nature of unfolding events. SAMI ZEMNI is the coordinator of the Middle East and North Africa Research Group at the Department of Conflict and Development Studies, Ghent University, Belgium. His area of expertise is politics within the Middle East and North Africa region, with special reference to political Islam. He focuses mainly on developments in Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt, democratization in the Arab World as well as conflict in the Arab world. He also writes on issues of migration, integration, racism and Islamophobia.

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