The ‘Church’ of Bourguiba: Nationalizing Islam in Tunisia

in Sociology of Islam
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An inquiry in historical sociology using textual interpretation of educational curricular documents to analyze the role assigned to Islam in the official ideology of Tunisia under its first post-independence president, Habib Bourguiba. Adapting a typology of religions in politics proposed by Bruce Lincoln, the article argues that the rationalized, controlled version of Islam promoted in Tunisia’s schools as part of a top-down revolution has its genealogy in similar efforts in Turkey and earlier in revolutionary and Third Republic France, and should be labeled ‘Jacobin.’ It concludes that the present polarization of Tunisian politics may be attributed in part to the partial success of Bourguiba’s project of republican identity formation, promoting different relationships to Islam among different classes of citizens.

The ‘Church’ of Bourguiba: Nationalizing Islam in Tunisia

in Sociology of Islam



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