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Cambridge University Press
Expected online publication date:
August 2024
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Book description

What does it mean to oppose or support an authoritarian regime from afar? During the years of Ben Ali's dictatorship in Tunisia between 1987 and 2011, diaspora activism played a key role in the developments of post-independence Tunisian politics. Centring this study on long-distance activism in France, where the majority of leftist and Islamist exile groups took refuge, Mathilde Zederman explores how this activism helps to shed new light on Tunisia's political history. Tunisian Politics in France closely explores the interactions and conflicts between different constellations of pro-regime and oppositional actors in France, examining the dynamics of what the author persuasively describes as a 'trans-state space of mobilisation'. In doing so, Zederman draws attention to the constraints and possibilities of long-distance activism. Utilising material gathered from extensive fieldwork in France and Tunisia, this study considers how the evolution of diaspora activism both challenges and reinforces the boundaries of Tunisian politics.


‘A fascinating and original treatment of an important but often neglected topic. By looking at three different groups of Tunisians in France and by examining developments both in France and Tunisia, Zederman gives a very comprehensive analysis and in this way contributes much to our understanding of politics within as well as between the two countries. Essential reading for anyone wanting to understand the politics of diasporas and the international dimensions of the Tunisian revolution of 2011.’

Michael Willis - University of Oxford

‘This book offers a pioneering in-depth investigation into the lives, dilemmas, and strategies of French-based Tunisian activists opposing and supporting Tunisian authoritarian regime. This meticulous and distinguished inquiry into the impact of political memory illuminates the key role of political organizing in exile and offers hope for a return to democracy in the country that awakened the most unprecedented wave of pro-democracy uprisings in the Arab world.’

Nadia Marzouki - Sciences Po CERI

‘Mathilde Zederman has produced the definitive account of Tunisian activism in France in this important contribution to research on diaspora, migration, and Middle East studies. Based on an impressive array of primary sources, Zederman’s work is a must-read for anyone seeking to understand the evolution of Tunisian politics from Habib Bourguiba to Kaies Saied.’

Gerasimos Tsourapas - University of Glasgow


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