Mohamed Kerrou (Tunis): Sphères publiques et restructuration du politique


"The political transition seen by Tunisia and other Arab countries (Egypt, Libya, Yemen ...) following a similar course in each country, albeit lived according to different rhythms, offers an opportunity to rethink the question of public spheres and civil society.
Before the fall of the "head of the system", policy was driven by a structure based on the central state and personal power of a familial type. The popular uprisings and political regime changes have engendered a crisis of the incomplete nation state. This crisis is further exacerbated by globalization and its effect of dissolving economies and cultural identities, along with the authority structures that be.
How to read and understand the current situation when the dominant paradigms of the social and political sciences have proven themselves incapable of foreseeing and grasping these changes that have taken place over the past couple years?
My research proposal is to acknowledge the restructuring of the political by centering the analysis on the phenomenon of plurality and the crossing of three different and competing public spheres: those of the state, religion and civil society.
The analysis of new political logic by means of examining the role of political actors and the challenges generated by their conflicts and compromises within these public spheres can illuminate this historical process - a process which, however, has just been initiated and will most likely require time before it takes on social forms that are and will be based on its own power relations.
Ultimately, the key question is whether such a process will end in the three public spheres coexisting, or rather in the domination of one sphere to the detriment of the others and, as a corollary, in the reproduction of the authoritarian system."

Professor Dr. Mohamed Kerrou, Université de Tunis El-Manar


Curriculum vitae

Mohamed Kerrou is professor for sociology at the Faculty of Law and Political Science of Tunis El-Manar University. He is further associate professor at the Université d'Aix-Marseille and the Rovira I Virgili University in Tarragona (Spain). He studied at the Faculté des Lettres et Sciences Humaines in Tunis and at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales in Paris, where in 1982 he obtained his Diplôme d'études approfondies (DEA) en Histoire et Civilisations, and went on to obtain his doctorate in political science at the Université de Sciences Sociales de Toulouse. In 2001, Mohamed Kerrou completed his habilitation in sociology at the University Tunis I. Mohamed Kerrou was guest researcher, inter alia, at the Instituto Oriente in Naples, the École française de Rome, the Maison des Sciences de l'Homme (MMSH) , the Université d'Aix-Marseille, at Brown University in Providence, RI (USA) and at the University of Tarragona (Spain), as well as at the Institut méditerranéen de recherches avancées (IMéRA) at the Université d'Aix-Marseille. Mohamed Kerrou has earned a reputation as an expert on the processes of transformation within North-African societies following the Arab Spring. His current research focuses on questions of the political public and the increasing influence of new religious and civil society actors in the reconfiguration of political forms of action and organization.

Selected publications

  • Hijâb. Nouveaux voiles et espaces publics, Tunis: Editions Cérès 2010.
  • Kairouan. Phare éternel de l'islam, Tunis: Editions Appolonia 2009.
  • D'Islam et d'Ailleurs. Hommage à Clifford Geertz (1926-2006), Tunis: Editions Cérès 2007.
  • La décision en scène. Un regard sociologique sur le pouvoir décisionnel des femmes tunisiennes, dir. Sihem Najjar & Mohamed Kerrou, Beyrouth-Tunis: M.A.J.D./Cawtar 2007.
  • Savoirs et pratiques de l'anthropologie, dir. R. Boukrâa, L. Ben Salem & M. Kerrou, Tunis: CERES 2007.
  • Public et Privé en Islam. Espaces, autorités et libertés, Paris: Maisonneuve & Larose 2002.
  • L'Autorité des Saints. Perspectives historiques et anthropologiques en Méditerranée Occidentale. Postface de Lucette Valensi, Paris: ERC 1998.
  • Monothéismes et Modernités, Tunis: Orient/Occident-Naumann, 1996.
  • L'Individu au Maghreb, Tunis: Editions TS 1993.