The ‘Arab’ Spring between Transformation and Capture: The Tunisian Case

Pârvan, Oana. 2018. The ‘Arab’ Spring between Transformation and Capture: The Tunisian Case. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

This research goes beyond the debate over the ‘success’ or ‘failure’ of the 2011 Arab Spring, seeking instead to develop a critical framing of one particular episode of those mobilisations, namely of the Tunisian revolution, by taking into account the often-overlooked instances of local struggles, migration and Islamic militancy in the region, in order to reveal the specificity of contemporary political action.

The Tunisian revolution raises important questions regarding the articulation of resistance and political subjectivity in the context of global governmentality. By drawing from political theory, philosophy, ethnography and readings of local street art, I attempt to restore the radical significance of the event as an instance of possible collective action by engaging with the concept of ‘political event’ (here drawing critically from Gilles Deleuze, Félix Guattari and Alain Badiou) as both rupture and creation of the new.

I reflect on different technologies of containment of dissent, aimed at reducing the virtual dimension of collective action. This containment can regard the discursive level and be enacted through hegemonic narratives or it can regard the non-discursive level of affects and be enacted by intensifying and/or speculating on accumulated affects (such as discontent). Yet, alongside these technologies, I theorize the existence of circuits of mediation concerned with the movement of tactical counter-knowledges and practices of resistance across wide (spaces such as the Mediterranean Sea after 2011, for example).

I integrate theories around contagion and virality of protest with the concept of resonance (Clover, 2016) based on the commonality of dispossession and the ‘structural similarities’ (Manji and Sokari, 2012) of mobile categories of people produced as surplus population (Clover, 2016). Furthermore, I mobilise Edouard Glissant’s notion of Relation (Glissant, 1997), to engage with the Tunisian example of cross-class alliances, while showing their centrality for the revolutionary transformation.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Identification Number (DOI):


Arab Spring, revolution, Tunisia, minor art, minor politics

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Centre for Cultural Studies (1998-2017)


31 October 2018

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

13 Mar 2019 15:36

Last Modified:

07 Sep 2022 17:14


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