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(Re)Creating a Christian Image Abroad: The Catholic Cathedrals of Protectorate-Era Tunis

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Chapter Summary

This chapter situates Tunis' two cathedral structures, St Louis de Carthage and St Vincent de Paul, within the larger socio-political context of Tunisia's colonial and postcolonial experience. Specifics related to their design and construction are followed by consideration of their relation to metropolitan French ecclesiastical architectures such as Paris' contemporaneous Sacré-Coeur Basilica. Roman Catholic officials in protectorate-era Tunisia staked legitimacy claims to material and symbolic associations with local history, as well as to contemporary ecclesiastical architecture in neighboring colonies and metropolitan France itself. Ultimately, the history of Tunis' Catholic architecture demonstrates the unique history of Tunisia and the complexities of French conceptions of didactic architectures as indicator of identity. It also renders visible the inadequacy of homogenizing binary theories and stylistic classifications that may overlook meaningful particularities within French colonial North Africa.

Keywords: Catholic architecture; French colonial North Africa; protectorate-era Tunisia; Sacré-Coeur Basilica; St Louis de Carthage; St Vincent de Paul



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