No Country for Young Men
In this podcast, Karim Zakhour, PhD candidate in Political Science at Stockholm University focuses on the relationship between young men in the margins and the state in periods of transition. By looking at everyday experiences of the state, Zakhour argues that one aspect of the Tunisian democratic transition and the opening of the public sphere has been a widespread deconstruction of the state. Another aspect is the increased opportunity for viewing the failures of society and of the self. It is by no means the case that the young men only externalize their critical gaze; they also turn it inwards. This increased opportunities for, and expressions of, self-critique coexist with a widely noted and prevalent nostalgia for Bourguiba, Ben Ali, and ‘strong man’ leaders more generally. Zakhour attempts to understand young men’s ambivalent attitude towards the state; as both deconstructive and desired and seeks to understand how these seemingly contradictory tendencies coexist, but also how they feed each other.
The interview is based on Karim Zakhour’s Doctoral research and fieldwork conducted in Kasserine and Gafsa. To that regard, he argues that it is only through an ethnographic approach that brings in the everyday that we can capture the complexities of state-citizen dynamics.
Karim’s other research interests include field methodology, political ethnography and the political economy of development.
CEMAT Assistant Director, Dr. Meriem Guetat, led this interview which was recorded during the CEMAT Director’s Conference on “Narratives of Legitimacy and the Maghrebi State: Power, Law and Comparison” held on 21 June 2019 in Sidi BouSaid, Tunisia.
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