Tribesmen and the colonial encounter : southern Tunisia during the French Protectorate, 1882 to 1940
This thesis focuses on the region's tribes and the changes in their political economy brought about by the Imposition of the colonial state and the penetration of capitalism, the tribesmen are not seen as pawns in a structural transformation but as active participants in the development of their own society. During the Protectorate period a dual economy emerged, differentials of wealth Increased, and many tribesmen were reduced to the position of insecure wage labourers. These processes had their roots in the pre-Protectorate economy but were precipitated by droughts, a growing population, the region's deteriorating terms and balance of trade, colonisation, the state's dismemberment of collective land and its exploitation of the tribal economy through taxation. Despite the state's increasing Intervention and control of tribal affairs the tribesmen continued to regard the state as an alien institution and were slow to participate in the new politics of Nationalism. Similarly, although growing differentials of wealth within the tribes strengthened the tribal political elite it did not allow them to escape from the factional politics of the Pre-Protectorate period. The state prevented its administrators emerging as a class Independent from the tribe by electing them from within their community and by refusing to give them unequivocal support. The colonial state and capitalism did not reconstruct the tribes' political economy according to a European model but interacted reflexively with existing and local structures to create a unique political economy that can only be understood through a detailed regional study.