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Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Interview with Dr. Laurence Michalak, "Weekly Markets to Informality: Five Decades of Researching Tunisia"

Episode 14

Interview with Dr. Laurence Michalak, 

"Weekly Markets to Informality: 

Five Decades of Researching Tunisia"


A cultural anthropologist, Dr. Laurence Michalak is a specialist in the Arab World, particularly North Africa. Dr. Michalak received his BA from Stanford (1964), MA from the School of Oriental and African Studies of the University of London (1970) and his PhD from the University of California, Berkeley (1983). He was Vice Chair of the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at the UC-Berkeley for 23 years, retiring in 2002. Since, he has taught as a visitor at UC/Berkeley (2003, 2010, 2011) and on Semester at Sea (Fall 2005), has done postdoctoral work in alcohol studies (2002-2004), has directed the Centre d'Études Maghrébines à Tunis (CEMAT), Tunisia (2006-10), and has consulted for the Council for a Community of Democracies. Dr. Michalak’s interests include informal commerce, migration, and economic development. He has edited books on social legislation in the contemporary Middle East and on international migration and social change in the Maghreb. He is currently working on a book about informal commerce in Tunisia.  

On October 5th, 2017, CEMAT Assistant Director Dr. Meriem Guetat interviewed Dr. Michalak on his five decades of research in Tunisia. In this podcast, Michalak discusses his experiences in Tunisia of the 1960s, his early interest in weekly markets, and his current interest in the informal commerce in post-Revolution Tunisia.



Download the Podcast: Feed / iTunes / Podbean

We thank Yesser Jradi for his interpretation of "Narja3lk dima." A talented artist, Yesser is a painter, musician with interests in cinema and theatre. 

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Suggested Readings:


Ben Cheikh, Nidhal. 2013. L’Extension de la protection sociale à l’économie informelle à l’épreuve de la transition en Tunisie.  Tunis: Centre de Recherches et des Etudes Sociales. 

De Soto, Hernando.  2012. The Informal Economy: How to Remedy It? An Opportunity for Tunisia.  Tunis: Cérès Editions, 2012.

Hart, Keith. 1973. Informal income opportunities and urban employment in Ghana. Journal of  Modern African Studies. 11(1).

Lobban, Richard. 1998. Middle Eastern Women and the Shadow Economy. Gainesville: University of Florida Press.

Michalak, Laurence. 1983. The Changing Weekly Markets of Tunisia. Dissertation, Department of Anthropology, University of California, Berkeley.

Michalak, Laurence.2013.  Tunisia:Igniting Arab Democracy.” In J. Kinsman and K. Bassuener, Eds. A Diplomat’s Handbook for Democracy Support. Washington, D.C.: Council for a Community of Democracies.

Nemsia, Hosni. 2013.  L’Emploi informel en Tunisie: Rapport d’étude. Washington, D.C.: Global Fairness Initiative, 2013.


Trabelsi, Karim. 2014. Current state of the informal economy in Tunisia as seen through its stakeholders: Facts and Alternatives. Tunis: UGGT.

World Bank. 2010. Shadow Economies All over the World. Washington, D.C.: World Bank.

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