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Title: Trans-state spaces of mobilisation : Tunisian activism in France in the era of Ben Ali (1987-2011)
Author: Zederman, Mathilde Clara
ISNI:       0000 0004 7960 6223
Awarding Body: SOAS University of London
Current Institution: SOAS, University of London
Date of Award: 2018
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Prior to the 2011 revolution, an understudied and yet central aspect of Tunisian politics was how both pro-regime and oppositional activism played out across borders, particularly amongst different political constellations of actors in France. In examining both the oppositional milieu comprised of Tunisian Islamists, leftists and trans-ideological actors, as well as networks of support and stakeholders within the authoritarian party-state, my dissertation seeks to explore the production and dynamics of what I conceptualise as the Tunisian trans-state space of mobilisation in France within the context of the Ben Ali regime (1987-2011). Who are the principal actors working to produce this space and how does it come to be structured? What are its prominent cleavages as the pro- and anti-regime politics of the homeland aspire to inform power from afar? This thesis therefore seeks to look at the specific relation to politics that exile activists maintain with both their country of origin and the country in which they are domiciled, and particularly the constraints and possibilities for action beyond these national spaces. By exploring the different structuring, political grammars, frames and repertoires of action both within and between these opposing activist groupings, this research hopes to help further our understanding of the key logics of activism from afar. Drawing upon fieldwork conducted over a two-year period in both France and Tunisia, this study is based on interviews with active members of a wide range of political activists including Islamists, leftists, elites within the Ben Ali and the French regimes, as well as extensive archival data. It argues that the Tunisian political struggles in France under Ben Ali resulted from a specific space that was produced not merely by the transposition of struggles occurring in Tunisia, but also by its concomitant inscription into the specific dynamics of France. In doing so it seeks to demonstrate that the trans-state space of mobilisation is a politicised space, delineated by political opportunities of both host and home states, and which ultimately structures differentiated and yet also overlapping fields of action – those of homeland politics and immigrant politics.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral