Turning a City Inside-Out.
On the Re-appropriation of Urban Space in Tunisia in Times of Revolt
The spatial dynamics were difficult to overlook during the 2011 movements of revolt in Tunisia, pushing the damned in the center of public attention in the concerted effort of turning prevailing authoritarian politics inside–out. Venturing in the spatial contestation central in these revolts, the mesmerizing occupation and re-appropriation of symbolic places, such as the Kasbah Square or Bourguiba Avenue takes center stage. These movements of occupation and re-appropriation of spatial power produced momentous heuristic enclaves of another order, projecting dreams of a renewed inclusive free and dignified body politic. Based on a long-term research in the field of visual arts in Tunisia between 2011 and 2017 and combining various postcolonial critiques, this article proposes to show how violent processes of destruction preceding these processes of re-appropriation and occupation are too often overlooked. Police stations, the presidential personality cult and the private estate of the authoritarian regime will be identified and treated as spatial nodes that maintain the compartmentalization and fragmentation of urban space in place. Moreover, by including in the analysis the often-omitted Islamist occupation and re-appropriation of mosques and public space contesting the ongoing constitutional political dynamics, this article hopes to elucidate why the revolutionary process failed in the production of a long aspired liberated and dignifying space, as the revolutionary re-appropriation of these symbolic nodes of power was not included in any political agenda.
Copyright (c) 2022 Joachim Ben Yakoub
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.