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Kaïs Saied’s Politics of Melancholy: Islam, the State, and the Nation in Tunisia after July 2019

Nadia Marzouki
Thursday, February 16, 2023, 5:30 pm – 7:00 pm

Kaïs Saied justified his July 25, 2021 self-coup by arguing that it was needed to stop the damage caused by a corrupt and inefficient parliament and to block Ennahda from participating in politics. In the early days of his time as head of state, Saied's political project was often misconstrued as a progressive secular commitment to social justice. Drawing upon an analysis of his positions regarding the place of Islam in the constitution and divisive issues such as inheritance law and minority rights, this talk describes how Kaïs Saied’s populist project redefines the traditional Islamist-secularist divide. His popular constitutionalist vision is primarily anti-modern and it is animated by a melancholic quest to recreate a type of Islamic political community that allegedly preceded the emergence of the nation state. 

Dr. Nadia Marzouki is a Research Fellow (chargée de recherche) at the CNRS (Centre national de la recherche scientifique) in Paris. She is the author of Islam, an American Religion (Columbia University Press, 2017). She coedited with Olivier Roy and Duncan McDonnell, Saving the People, How Populists Hijack Religion (Oxford University Press, 2017). She is currently working on a new book project on faith-based moral movements in the United States and Europe