Middle East Studies

Conference – Decolonization, Development and State Building in North Africa

event poster

Friday, April 3, 2020

Time: All Day

Joukowsky Forum, Watson Institute
111 Thayer St.


Colleagues are requested to submit a proposal of approximately 300 words along with a brief CV using this web form by January 15, 2020.  Successful applicants will be informed by February 7, 2020.

Selected participants will be asked to submit a full-length paper of 4,000–7,000 words by March 20, 2020, for pre-circulation. 

Panels will be organized around themes that emerge from the papers.

All paper presenters are expected to give the Center for Middle East Studies first right to publication. 

Submission Protocol for abstracts and final papers: Last name and title of paper

Description in the call for papers

In 2011, Tunisia made international headlines for sparking the Arab Spring. Everyday men and women took to the streets to demand political, social and economic change, culminating in the unprecedented ouster of longtime Tunisian president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. Similar protests spread throughout the region, primarily in eastern neighboring countries, including Libya, Egypt, and Syria, the repercussions of which are ongoing. But what of Tunisia’s western neighbors, Algeria and Morocco? Why did they not undergo the same degree of political unrest? This conference explores the historical developments in the postcolonial Maghrib (Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia), all former French colonial territories. It analyzes the impact of decolonization across the three countries and interrogates the varied approaches to development and state building after prolonged periods of foreign rule. Topics include infrastructure and investment projects, public health campaigns, education and language policies, intra-Maghribi relations as well as international relations, and strategies for establishing legitimacy and maintaining power.

Historical scholarship on the Maghrib often focuses on one of the three countries, and while a limited number of political science studies attend to Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia within a single frame, they typically exclusively examine politics and party formation. This conference, which will coincide with spring 2020 upper-level North African History Seminar (HIST 1960S), therefore, aims to bring together an interdisciplinary group of Maghribi specialists from the United States, Europe, and North Africa to consider anew the region as a unit and its unique evolution. In so doing, the conference will identify new directions in North African history that will help us better understand the priorities and concerns of Maghribi actors and shed light on its current place within the overlapping spheres of the Middle East, Africa, and Europe.

Major Events
North Africa