This article examines the continued resonance of Bourguibist discourses on modernity within Tunisia, how his political legacy continues to serve as a point of reference for diverse political movements, and therefore seeks to question how this conceptualization of modernity remains hegemonic. I posit that the national narrative of “modernity” conveyed by Bourguiba in the post-independence era should be understood as an arena of struggle over power and identity, and accordingly that both serve to shed light on how collective memory is mobilized as a political idiom to legitimise certain ideological agendas and views on what is deemed the “right” Tunisian national identity. With specific reference to Ennahda and Nidaa Tounes, I argue that understanding the prevailing political and social scene of post-revolutionary Tunisia necessitates examination of the social construction of Bourguiba, how he has come to be “mythologised” in order to generate support at a national level, and more importantly how this functions within broader discursive strategies towards power. In seeking to move beyond the current binarism that situates Islamists and so-called “secularists” (supposedly heirs of Bourguibism) in opposition, this study seeks to demonstrate the commonalities within their respective appropriations of the Bourguibist legacy in the post-revolutionary context, and thereby to elucidate how his normative heritage serves as a touchstone for seemingly contradictory ideological currents.
In1956Bourguiba decided to dismantle the prestigious institution of the Zitouna: from an educational religious scientific and literary institution he transformed it as a University. The University became autonomous from the religious power of the Zitouna Mosque which represented a huge break in the relations between science religion and power. See Stéphanie Pouessel “Mémoire de La Répression en Tunisie : À Propos de l’Université Des Sciences Islamiques de La Zeytouna” Institut De Recherches et d’Études sur le Monde Arabe et Musulman November 21 2014 http://iremam.hypotheses.org/5500.
Geisser and Chokri“ Bourguiba dans la Mémoire Islamiste Tunisienne”371.
See notably Olivier RoyL’échec de l’Islam politique (Paris: Seuil1992); Olivier Roy “L’entrée dans une Ère Postislamiste?” Esprit (December 2011/12): 107–115. Rather than post-Islamism we see an ideological evolution of the movement which has been shaped by the political and social evolutions of the country just as any other movements. Along the same lines of inquiries see Francesco Cavatorta and Fabio Merone “Post-Islamism Ideological Evolution and ‘la Tunisianité’ of the Tunisian Islamist Party Al-Nahda” Journal of Political Ideologies 20 no. 1 (2015): 27–42.
Rachid Barnat“Meherzia Laabidi: Le ‘Cadeau’ de Nidaa Tounes aux Tunisiennes,”Kapitalis.comOctober 4 2015 http://kapitalis.com/tunisie/2015/10/04/meherzia-laabidi-le-cadeau-de-nidaa-tounes-aux-tunisiennes/.