Lessons from the Arab Spring: the Case of Tunisia

Tue, 2018-03-13 14:45 - 16:15

A lecture by Dr Safwan Masri, SIPA, Columbia University. 


Lessons from the Arab Spring: the Case of Tunisia


With Safwan Masri, Adjunct Professor, SIPA; Executive Vice President for Global Centers, Columbia University

Introduced by Mark Maloney, Vice Dean, PSIA

Discussed and moderated by Jean-Pierre Filiu, Professor of Middle East Studies, PSIA


Tuesday 13 March 2018 – 2:45 pm-4:15 pm
Sciences Po, Amphitheater Caquot, 28 rue des Saints-Pères
Open to PSIA community. Registration compulsory.


Seven years ago, the self-immolation of a Tunisian fruit and vegetable vendor inspired a nation to stand up against a corrupt, authoritarian regime and demand a better future. Inspired by Tunisia’s example, Arab publics rose up in expectant defiance, first in solidarity and then for change in its own right at home, setting into motion a domino effect that became known as the “Arab Spring.” But was there really an Arab Spring, or is the term actually a misnomer? Is a “Tunisian Spring” a more apt descriptor, given where Arab Spring countries, with the exception of Tunisia, have ended up? Some have failed to bring about democracy, most crushingly in Egypt, which seemed to have been on a promising path. Other countries either brutally but effectively quieted dissent or became scenes of civil war, chaos, displacement, and utter disintegration.

Drawing on his recent book, Tunisia: An Arab Anomaly (Columbia University Press, 2017), Professor Safwan Masri will examine the factors that contributed to Tunisia’s experience after the Arab Spring, focusing on the country’s history of reformism in the domains of education, religion, and women’s rights. He will use the case of Tunisia to shed light on the state of affairs in the broader region, exploring themes such as Islamism, education, democracy, and reform. Masri will argue that the factors that helped Tunisia have not only been missing in other Arab counties, but an opposite, regressive trajectory has been followed in much of the rest of the region.


Photo (c) SIPA, Columbia University

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