Home > Middle East Centre > Publications > Paper Series > 2015 > Battlefields of the Republic: The Struggle for Public Space in Tunisia
How to contact us

Middle East Centre
Tower 1, 10th Floor
London School of Economics and Political Science
Houghton Street
London WC2A 2AE 

General Enquiries and Events
Sandra Sfeir
+44 (0)20 7955 6198

Projects and Scholarships Enquiries 
Chelsea Milsom
+44 (0)20 7955 7038

Media and Communications Enquiries
Ribale Sleiman Haidar

+44(0)20 7955 6250


Battlefields of the Republic: The Struggle for Public Space in Tunisia

Charles Tripp

LSE Middle East Centre Paper Series | 13 | December 2015


This paper argues that the Tunisian revolutionary moment of 2011 and its aftermath have opened up spaces that are capable of providing a framework for the agonistic politics associated with democratic possibility. Insurgent public space, an emerging plural public, as well as adversarial contests over the constitution of the republic display features that may help to build ‘conflictual consensus’ as part of a democratic future. These possibilities are constantly being re-enacted by Tunisians whose disagreements are real enough, but whose struggles are also establishing the boundaries of an emerging political field, loosely thought of as the ‘Tunisian Republic’. This is a bold and challenging undertaking, with potentially revolutionary implications, but it is also a precarious enterprise, given the forces that may yet threaten to encroach on public space and on the rights of the citizen.

This paper forms part of a series on Social Movements and Popular Mobilisation in the MENA Region (SMPM), led by Dr John Chalcraft.

About the Author

Charles Tripp is Professor of Politics with reference to the Middle East at SOAS, University of London and a Fellow of the British Academy. His research interests include the nature of autocracy, state and resistance in the Middle East, the politics of Islamic identity and the relationship between art and power. He is currently working on a study of the emergence of the public and the rethinking of republican ideals across the states of North Africa. Together with other colleagues in the department he has been one of the founders of the Centre for Comparative Political Thought at SOAS. 

Download the full paper in PDF