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The Tunisian Revolution: From Universal Slogans for Democracy to the Power of Language *

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This article, published posthumously, focuses on the use of language in the Tunisian revolution. It argues that language during the revolution and in the context of the Arab spring more widely was a performative political act by people from diverse backgrounds who united around the common cause of democracy and dignity. It examines the diversity of enunciations during the revolution, verbal as well as written (in the form of graffiti and protest banners), and relates them to the social history of Tunisia. The article then turns to the linguistic faultlines in the wake of the Tunisian revolution between secular and ‘Islamist’ camps in Tunisia, and the linguistic dimension of political debate in the country and its relationship to social history.


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