The Humanities as the source of Restless Freedom
the Tunisian Question
The motto, “Liberty-Work-Dignity,” pronounced by the under-employed university graduates who inaugurated the Tunisian Revolution in 2010 echoes the proclaimed aim of President Habib Bourguiba’s 1958 education reform, to produce a humanistically educated population that “assumes . . . and becomes conscious of its dignity.” The spontaneity of the Tunisian Revolution indicates the success of that project. Understanding the trajectory and the role of the Tunisian humanities in the revolution and the current struggle to realize its principles may provide us with a way to re-imagine humanistic education as a viable element in formulating a cosmopolitanism different from that associated with neoliberal globalization.
R. A. Judy is Professor of Critical and Cultural Studies at the University of Pittsburgh, and a member of the boundary 2 Editorial Collective. Having studied Arabic language and literature at al-Azhar University (1975-79), in 1998 he was a Fulbright Fellow at the Institut Bourguiba des Langues Vivantes, Université de Tunis I, (1998-99), and has edited two important b2 dossiers on Tunisia: The Tunisian Revolution Dignity (2012), and Some Notes on the Status of Global English in Tunisia (2000)