Coloring Outside the Lines of the Nation. An Iconological Analysis of the Tunisian Revolution


  • Joachim Ben Yakoub Ghent University



The Tunisian revolution not only liberated the country of its tenacious autocratic ruler, it also impacted, in a profound way, the imagination of prevailing political subjectivities. After Ben Ali fled the country, unsettled post-colonial tensions over the delineation of these changing subjectivities re-emerged, coloring outside the lines of the nation. The present paper analyzes this contentious process of becoming through an iconological analysis of the entangled dynamics of re-imagination that the national flag underwent during the Tunisian revolution, starting from the liberation phase in December 2010, through the constitutional phase and the promulgation of the new constitution in 2014, until the inauguration of the National Flag Square in March 2017. The present iconological analysis is not only paradoxically witness to the very limitation of the power of icons to engender dignified relationalities within a given nation, but is also witness to the slow closure of the revolutionary space and the gradual blockage of revolutionary processes of subject formation. This blockage was productive for the precarious restoration of national unity and state prestige necessary for the completion of the new constitution, but less for the demands for liberty, social justice and dignity so central to the revolution.


Joachim Ben Yakoub, Ghent University

is associated to the MENARG (Middle East and North Africa) and S:PAM (Studies in Performing Arts & Media) research groups from the University of Ghent, Belgium, where he is doing his PhD research in political science on the intersection of Art and Revolution in Tunisia.






Ben Yakoub, J. „Coloring Outside the Lines of the Nation. An Iconological Analysis of the Tunisian Revolution“. Middle East - Topics & Arguments, Bd. 8, Mai 2017, S. 31-44, doi:10.17192/meta.2017.8.6542.