Despite the promise to address socioeconomic injustices and unemployment, these issues remain in political and public debates in ‘democratizing’ Tunisia without having no radical and systematic approach to resolving them in place. The existing literature notes that Tunisia’s ‘transition to democracy’ has been largely shaped by the old neoliberal approach, leading many youths to take to the street again. This article contributes to the literature and more broadly to the study of resistance in neoliberal times by exploring the relationship between the post-2011 transitional justice regime’s governing through rights and justice and the Mafrouzeen Amniya Movement, which consists of a group of unemployed protesters who claim that their right to work was violated by the state as a result of their protests against the authoritarian regime. Drawing on critical approaches to neoliberalism, human rights and social movements, I argue that transitional justice in Tunisia partly served neoliberal governing by marginalizing revolutionary demands for structural changes and social justice and promoting individualized forms of human rights. Crucially, the neoliberal function of transitional justice was not a top-down process but was constituted through a form of social movement whose dominant liberal human rights discourse was (re)produced by the state as well as by grass-roots movements including the Mafrouzeen Amniya group. In arguing this, rather than present unemployed protesters as being co-opted and subordinated to the state, this article offers a nuanced understanding of how they can reproduce and at the same time challenge the neoliberal transitional justice movement.
- human rights
- transitional justice