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Post-revolutionary Tunisia: The Islamist Construction of ‘Woman’ on Facebook

Zouabi, Manel (2017) Post-revolutionary Tunisia: The Islamist Construction of ‘Woman’ on Facebook. PhD thesis, University of York.

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Abstract

This thesis examines the construction of Tunisian woman on post-revolutionary Islamist Facebook pages. Much research on the digital politics of ‘the Arab Spring’ has been conducted. It has significantly emphasised the libratory function of social media, especially in regard to the mobilisation of people into street rebellion. Yet, there has been scant research into the more subtle discursive power of online communication in shifting normative cultural understandings. In this project, and after discussing the political history of Islamism in Tunisia and then outlining the way Facebook became a crucial location for political persuasion, utilised by groups of Islamists, I assess a significant number of Islamist Facebook pages. I ask: ‘How do Islamists construe women, what strategies are used to enable Islamist ideas on women to become culturally acceptable? In order to address these questions I carefully selected representative posts dealing with the particular aspects of women’s dress code, moral conduct, and feminist activists, which I identified in my critical study of the political history of Islamism. I deploy critical discourse analysis to offer a small-scale, detailed analysis of the re-inscription of women into the Islamist discourse. My analysis unveils that the post-revolutionary Islamist discourse about women still draws widely on the pre-revolutionary Islamist agenda. Woman is still essentialised in, and conceptualised through, the mega religious, cultural, and political discourse of resistance. She is, consequently, strictly polarized into the veiled versus the unveiled, the pious versus the fallen, and the Arab Muslim versus the Westernised francophone. I assert that this deconstructive exposure not only contributes to underdeveloped scholarship on North African and post ‘Arab Spring’ studies in relation to women, politicised religious discourses, and social media, but also offers tools with which to challenge Islamist ideas.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of York > Centre for Women's Studies (York)
Depositing User: Miss Manel Zouabi
Date Deposited: 25 May 2017 09:07
Last Modified: 25 May 2017 09:07
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/17318

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