Thoughts on State-Building, Decolonization, Gender, and Tunisia: Insights from the Global 1960s

 Episode 141

Thoughts on State-Building, Decolonization, Gender, and Tunisia: Insights from the Global 1960s

In this conversation, Amy Kallander reflects on how the work of Tunisian scholars on trade unions, feminism, and patriarchy informed her approach to thinking critically about state-building in the first decades after independence. Placing ideas about gender and women’s rights in relation to broader debates about cultural decolonization, transnational political movements, pan-Arab and Maghribi intellectual projects and the power dynamics of the Cold War era offers insights on thinking intersectionally and local articulations of global phenomena. Drawing from her new book Tunisia’s Modern Woman: Nation-Building and State Feminism in the Global 1960s she gestures towards the importance of women in the realms of diplomacy, economic development, and intellectual life, as well as in social and cultural domains. As a way of placing women into standard histories of the era, gender analysis points towards the necessity of considering class, regional, and other disparities.

Amy Kallander  is Associate Professor of History and Affiliated faculty with Women’s and Gender Studies at Syracuse University, NY, USA. A scholar of early modern and modern Middle East history, she is the author of Tunisia’s Modern Woman: Nation-Building and State Feminism in the Global 1960s (Cambridge 2021) and Women, Gender, and the Palace Household in Ottoman Tunisia (Texas 2013). These works place gender in relation to social history and political power, population politics, fashion, consumerism, and love. She has authored articles and book chapters exploring the role of social media in Tunisian social movements, postcolonial and transnational relations with France, has appeared in the International Journal of Middle East StudiesMiddle East Report OnlineArab Media & SocietyFrench Politics, Culture and Society and Nouri Gana ed. The Tunisian Revolution: Contexts, Architects, Prospects (Edinburgh 2013).

This interview was recorded on March 24, 2022, via Zoom by the Centre d'Études Maghrébines à Tunis (CEMAT) and was led by CEMAT Director, Dr Laryssa Chomiak.


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Nous remercions Mr. Souheib Zallazi, (Étudiant au CFT, Tunisie) et Mr. Malek Saadani (Étudiant à l'ULT, Tunisie), pour leur interprétation de « al-Ardh Ardhi » de Sabri Mesbah, pour l'introduction et la conclusion de ce podcast. Souheib au mélodica et Malek à la guitare.

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

Suggested Bibliography

Ben Hamida, Abdesselem. 1989. Le Syndicalisme Tunisien de la deuxième guerre mondiale à l'autonomie interneTunis: Publications de l'Université de Tunis.


Bier, Laura. 2011. Revolutionary Womanhood: Feminisms, Modernity, and the State in Nasser's Egypt. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.


Ghodsee, Kristen Rogheh. Second World, Second Sex: Socialist Women's Activism and Global Solidarity During the Cold War. Durham: Duke University Press.


Kashani-Sabet, Firoozeh. 2011. Conceiving Citizens: Women and the Politics of Motherhood in Iran. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press.


Kallander, Amy Aisen. 2021. Tunisia’s Modern Woman: Nation-Building and State Feminism in the Global 1960s. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


Krichen, Aziz. 1993. Le syndrome Bourguiba. Tunis: Cérès Productions.


Marzouki, Ilhem. 1993. Le Mouvement des femmes en Tunisie au XXème siècle. Tunis: Cérès Productions.


Marzouki, Ilhem. 1999. Femmes d'ordre ou désordre de femmes? Tunis: Noir sur Blanc.