Becoming the 'Abid
In 2011, after the popular uprising overthrew former President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, in Tunisia several issues came to the fore: among them, racism targeting “black” individuals. Few black rights associations emerged, and their struggle culminated in the promulgation of a law punishing racist acts and words in October 2019. The step is historical, and stems from Tunisia’s foreseeing policy concerning human and civil rights. In 1846, Tunisia was the first country to abolish slavery and the slave trade in the Ottoman Empire and in the Middle Eastern world. Becoming the ‘Abid addresses the issue of the legacy of slavery in a southern Tunisian governorate, where racism towards “black” individuals is still a painful experience and takes the form of professional, educational, and marital discrimination. Referring to the concept of “structural inequality”, the book goes beyond the simplistic idea that race is only related to phenotype, taking distance from the Western racial concepts, and highlights how processes of racialization are contextual, processual, and changing constructions.