Conversation with Lisa Anderson and Tarek Kahlaoui: Reflections on Tunisia's State Building History and Contemporary Democratization Experience

Episode 102

Conversation with Lisa Anderson and Tarek Kahlaoui: Reflections on Tunisia's State Building History and Contemporary Democratization Experience

In this discussion, Lisa Anderson and Tarek Kahlaoui reflect on Tunisia's post-independence state-building history and the country's contemporary democratization experience. The conversation draws listeners to the transformative moments that preceded the 2011 Revolution, which had subsequent pivotal effects. Reflecting on their own intellectual and professional engagement with Tunisia, the speakers underscore the shortcomings of minimalist and purely institutional academic approaches to the study and practice of democracy.

Prof. Anderson is the James T. Shotwell Professor Emirita of International Relations at Columbia University, former President of the American University in Cairo, the Dean Emerita of the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University, and author of The State and Social Transformation in Tunisia and Libya: 1830-1980 (Princeton University Press, 1986).

Associate Prof. Kahlaoui taught history and Islamic civilization at Rutgers University for a decade after completing his Ph.D. at the University of Pennsylvania in 2008. After serving as the general director of the Tunisian Institute of Strategic Studies, Tunisia's leading think tank tied to the Presidency of the Republic, he resumed teaching history of the Arab World at the South Mediterranean University in Tunis. He is author of a 2020 book on Ahmed Ben Salah, a powerful super-minister under Tunisia's first president, Habib Bourguiba.

This podcast recorded on January 6, 2021 between Tunis and New York, as a part of CEMA and CEMAT's "The Ten-Year Anniversary of Tunisia's Revolution (January 14, 2011)" lecture series. Organized by the Tunis Office of Columbia Global Centers (CGC) with the Centre d'Études Maghrébines à Tunis (CEMAT) and the Centre d'Études Maghrébines en Algérie (CEMA), this podcast was moderated by Dr. Laryssa Chomiak, CEMAT Director, and introduced by Youssef Cherif, CGC Director. 


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


Posted by Hayet Lansari, Librarian, Outreach Coordinator, Content Curator (CEMA).


Suggested Bibliography

Anderson, Lisa. 2016 (1986). The State and Social Transformation in Tunisia and Libta, 1830-1980. Princeton: Princeton University Press.  

Anderson, Lisa. 2011 "Demystifying the Arab Spring: Parsing the Differences Between Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya." Foreign Affairs (May / June).

Anderson, Lisa. 1991. "Political Pacts, Liberalism, and Democracy: The Tunisian National Pact of 1988." Government and Opposition 26(2): 244-260.


Kahlaoui, Tarek. 2020. أحمد بن صالح: سيرة زعيم إجتماعي ديمقراطي . Tunis: Sotimedia


Kahlaoui, Tarek. 2020. "Where is Tunisia Heading? Interview with Tarek Kahlaoui." Observatory on Contemporary Crisis (Nov. 7, 2020).