MEC Webinar: HT21: Week 6: Tunisia: Unfinished Revolutions (Held jointly with the British-Tunisian Society)

Conveners: St Antony's College Middle East Centre

Speakers: Hela Ammar (Artist); Mohamed Kerrou (University of Tunis El Manar)

Discussant: Professor Charles R H Tripp (SOAS University of London)


Chair: Dr Michael Willis (St Antony's College, Oxford)

The overthrow of Ben Ali's dictatorship in 2011 was revolutionary both in its method and in its outcome, involving mass participation and opening the way for the establishment of democratic institutions. However, like all such events, it is part of a process that continues as Tunisians grapple with the challenge of bringing about significant change not simply in their governing institutions, but also in the other areas of political, social, cultural and economic life that shape the lives and the rights of citizens. This panel will explore some of the achievements of the past ten years, but also the unfinished business and unrealised hopes that have marked Tunisia's political trajectory.

Speaker Biographies

Dr Héla Ammar

Héla Ammar is a Tunisia based visual artist. In addition to her training in visual art, she holds a Phd in Law. 

Author of Corridors (2014), a photo book on Tunisian prisons, and co-author of Siliana Syndrome (2013), a survey of death row in Tunisia, she recently developed a whole artwork around the prison environment. In 2011, immediately after the revolution, she was part of the Artocracy Inside Out project that sought, through art, to reclaim public spaces in Tunisia for the Tunisian public.  She was also a member of the commission set up by the Tunisian government in 2011 to look into the conditions of prisons across the country.

More generally, her photographs and installations address issues of memory and identity.

A selection of her works now forms part of the British Museum (London) and the Institut du Monde Arabe (Paris) permanent collections.

Her work has been showcased in various international biennials and exhibitions including the Biennial of Contemporary Arab World Photographers (Institut du Monde Arabe, Paris, 2017),  Réenchantements Dak’art Biennial 2016 (Senegal), Fragments d’une Tunisie contemporaine,  MuCem (Marseille,2015), Bamako Encounters (Mali, 2015 and 2017), Something Else, Off Biennial Cairo (Egypt 2015) International Photography Encounters of Fes (Morocco, 2015), Monochromes Dak’art Biennal, (Senegal 2014), the 27th Instants Vidéo (Festival numérique et poétique, Marseille 2014), World Nomads New York ( USA, 2013), Les rencontres photographiques d’Arles (France, 2013), Dream City (Tunisia, 2010, 2012 and 2017) 

Prof Mohamed Kerrou

Mohamed Kerrou is Professor of Political Science at the Faculty of Law and Political Science at the University of Tunis El Manar. He is also a permanent member of the Tunisian Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters Beit Al-Hikma, as well as a founding member of the Tunisian Observatory for Democratic Transition. He has published numerous articles and books, amongst which: L'autre révolution. Essai, Tunis, Cérès, 2018; L'homme des questions. Hommage à Abdelkader Zghal, Tunis, Cérès, 2017; Hijâb. Nouveaux voiles et espaces publics, Tunis, Cérès, 2010; D'islam et d'ailleurs. Hommage à Clifford Geertz, Tunis, Cérès, 2007. His forthcoming book, currently in press, is entitled: Jemna. L'oasis de la révolution, Tunis, Cérès, 2021.