Book presentation and discussion: Inside Tunisia's al-Nahda: Between Politics and Preaching


The Middle East and North Africa Research group warmly invites you to the presentation of the book ‘Inside Tunisia's al-Nahda: Between Politics and Preaching’ by Dr. Rory McCarthy on Monday, 26 November 2018, 20:00 at the Film Plateau in Ghent. Prof. Dr. Sami Zemni will introduce the evening, after which Dr. McCarthy himself will present his book. Finally, Dr Fabio Merone will offer his critical reading, before opening the discussion to the audience. The book will be offered for sale after the discussion.


In the wake of the Arab uprisings, the Tunisian Islamist movement al-Nahda voted to transform itself into a political party that would for the first time withdraw from a preaching project built around religious, social, and cultural activism. This turn to the political was not a Tunisian exception but reflects an urgent debate within Islamist movements as they struggle to adjust to a rapidly changing political environment. This book re-orientates how we think about Islamist movements. Drawing on extensive fieldwork with grassroots activists of Tunisia's al-Nahda, Rory McCarthy focuses on the lived experience of activism to offer a challenging new perspective on one of the Middle East's most successful Islamist projects. Original evidence explains how al-Nahda survived two decades of brutal repression in prison and in social exclusion, and reveals what price the movement paid for a new strategy of pragmatism and reform during the Tunisian transition away from authoritarianism.


Rory McCarthy is a fellow of Magdalen College, University of Oxford, where he works on social movements, contentious politics, and Islamism in the Middle East and North Africa. He is the author of Nobody Told Us We Are Defeated: Stories from the New Iraq (2006) and co-editor of Civil Resistance in the Arab Spring: Triumphs and Disasters (2016). He spent a decade as a foreign correspondent for the Guardian, with postings in Islamabad, Baghdad, Beirut, and Jerusalem. He has a B.A. in History from the University of Cambridge and an M.Phil. and D.Phil. in Oriental Studies from the University of Oxford.

Fabio Merone is a researcher at the Middle East and North Africa Research Group, Ghent University. He recently finished his PhD research on the evolution of Islamism in Tunisian democratic transition. Fabio Merone has published in several academic international journals and with Francesco Cavatorta, Merone has edited the book “ Salafism after the Arab Awakening. Contending with people’s power».

Sami Zemni is a professor in political and social sciences at the Conflict Research Group a multidisciplinary research unit at Ghent University. He coordinates and leads the Middle East and North Africa Research Group. His area of expertise is politics within the Middle East and North Africa region, with special reference to political Islam. He focuses on processes of neoliberalisation, globalization and political change in Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, and Egypt.



When? Monday, 26 November 2018, 20:00

Where? Film Plateau, Paddenhoek 3, 9000 Ghent

Entrance? Free!


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