The Radicalization of Heritage in Tunisia
journal article
Since the so-called ‘Jasmine Revolution’ of 2009 in Tunisia, the idea of heritage has been destabilized following a series of attacks on religious and cultural sites across the country by militant Salafi groups. Thus far, sites of Jewish heritage have been the most affected. Cultural heritage from Tunisia’s rich ancient history, redolent for certain Islamists with associations of Jahiliyya, has also been targeted. The well-publicized attack on the Bardo Museum in March 2015 was perhaps the most famous symbol of this trend. However, less publicized have been attempts to reclaim some sacred sites, resulting in the occupation of local mosques on the island of Djerba and in the town of Le Kef. In the wake of these events, some Djerbian civilians have stood up to defend what they consider as intrinsic parts of the patrimonial identity of their island. But as they have been defending these mosques against extremist groups, new considerations related to their preservation have surfaced, calling into question their very patrimonialization. In the context of this radical politicization of Tunisian heritage, this article explores the struggle over who defines the meanings and uses of heritage in Tunisia and the new challenges and opportunities that Salafi attacks have created for the heritage sector since the revolution.

Keywords: Salafism; Tunisia; heritage; minorities; mosques; museums; representation
Rey, Virginie. "The Radicalization of Heritage in Tunisia." In International Journal of Islamic Architecture, Volume 7, Number 1 (pp. 67-84) , edited by Mohammad Gharipour, Bristol: Intellect, 2018.
cultural heritage