Amel Grami (Tunis/Bonn): The Debate on Law, Religion and Gender in Post-Revolutionary Tunisia: Emerging and inherited cultural patterns


In a society transitioning to democracy from an authoritarian regime, drafting a new constitution is an important step in the establishment of a civil and democratic state. Indeed, the demand of Tunisians to write a new constitution reflects their ambitions, aspirations and hopes; but reality shows a huge gap between the expectations of the majority of Tunisians and the result of the drafting process.

The Tunisian transition is characterized by a fierce debate between the secular and the religious forces. This unfolding confrontation forms the backdrop to the process of drafting a new constitution amid anxiety surrounding the role of law, the place of Islam in the new political system and the gender relationship.

However, fears of the resurrection of a new theocratic dictatorship are mitigated by a dynamic civil society in which voices that were silenced, invisible or misused by the former regime of Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali are becoming distinctly vocal. Their action has become increasingly visible evolving around the place of law, religion, and gender in the new Constitutional framework. The debate has been so far marked by constant clashes between not only ideologies but inherited and emerging cultural patterns some of which have become part of the local socio-cultural landscape reflected namely in dress, the arts and debates on the place of women in society and politics.

Prof. Dr. Amel Grami

Curriculum Vitae

Amel Grami studied Arabic Language Literature and History at the University of Tunis, where she received her PhD with a thesis on “Apostasy in Islamic Thought” in 1993. In 2004, she obtained her Doctorat d’Etat with a treatise on “Difference in Islamic Culture” from the University of Manouba. Since 1993, Amel Grami has been researching and teaching at the Faculty of Arts and Humanities of the University of Manouba, where she became Professor for Arabic Studies in 2005. Professor Grami is one of the world’s leading experts on the intersect between Comparative Religious Studies and Gender Studies (with special focus on Maghreb societies). For many years, she has been dealing with issues related to the dialog between religions and cultures. Her special fields of interest include reform movements in the Middle East and Tunisia. Amel Grami has also been a widely visible and vocal intellectual supporter of women’s rights in the Islamic world in public discourse and the media, particularly during the course of the recent upheaval in the Maghreb. Since May 2014 Amel Grami is Fellow at the Käte Hamburger Center for Advanced Study in the Humanities “Law as Culture”.