Date of Award

2013

First Advisor

Asma Abbas

Second Advisor

Brian Conolly

Third Advisor

Chris Coggins

Abstract

From the actions of the Ben Ali regime to the protests that followed the self-­‐ immolation of an ordinary fruitseller, the events that comprise the Tunisian revolution contain many inspirations and challenges to how we think about politics today. The story of Tunisia’s history of postcoloniality and neoliberalism offers us both a narrative of how the state’s turn to neoliberal economic policies and internal colonisations mobilized populations against each other and placed issues beyond the contention and negotiation of its subjects, creating conditions for the possibility of a “political moment”, namely, the revolution of January 2010. Using thinkers such as Michel Foucault, Immaneul Kant, and Jacques Rancière, I explore these conditions, with a focus on the aesthetics of this political moment. Through the examples of graffiti and poetry this thesis turns to, I show how the relations between the artist, the work of art, and the observer play a crucial role not only in expressing the history and pain that was once inexpressible and denied by the Tunisian government, but also in finding and constructing a commonality between subjects of the regime.

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