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Divided RuleSovereignty and Empire in French Tunisia, 1881-1938$
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Mary Dewhurst Lewis

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780520279155

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2014

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520279155.001.0001

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Over Our Dead Bodies

Over Our Dead Bodies

Burial Rites and Sovereignty in 1930s Tunisia

Chapter:
(p.131) Five Over Our Dead Bodies
Source:
Divided Rule
Author(s):

Mary Dewhurst Lewis

Publisher:
University of California Press
DOI:10.1525/california/9780520279155.003.0006

This chapter demonstrates how France’s new interventionism backfired in the context of Tunisia’s broadening nationalist movement, led by a lawyer named Habib Bourguiba, who would become the first president of independent Tunisia in 1957. By the 1920s, French authorities had invented the doctrine of co-sovereignty in order to wrest influence in the protectorate away from other European powers. In the 1930s, however, the concept of co-sovereignty played into nationalists’ hands by overextending France’s reach. The chapter explores the backlash engendered by France’s newly aggressive sovereignty claims as the nationalist movement, through the Destour and later Neo-Destour parties, cast Muslim burial grounds as privileged loci of Tunisian sovereignty in the 1930s. In organizing a rights campaign around the inviolability of Muslim cemeteries as sovereign Tunisian territories, nationalists turned the logic of the protectorate compromise on its head. France, they argued, violated rather than protected Tunisian sovereignty.

Keywords:   Destour, Neo-Destour, Habib Bourguiba, co-sovereignty, burial, nationalism, Islam, Muslim cemeteries, Tunisian sovereignty

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