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Environmental Politics in the Middle East$
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Harry Verhoeven

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780190916688

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190916688.001.0001

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Tunisian Phosphates and the Politics of the Periphery

Tunisian Phosphates and the Politics of the Periphery

(p.53) 2 Tunisian Phosphates and the Politics of the Periphery
Environmental Politics in the Middle East

Francis Ghilès

Eckart Woertz

Oxford University Press

Using underexplored grey literature and personal interviews with officials, experts and businessmen, this chapter discusses the constitutive role of phosphate mining and trade unions in the politics of the periphery in Tunisia - politics that have been crucially affected by post-independence development agendas, the transformation of national elites in the crony capitalism of the Ben Ali era and its interplay with international donor and development institutions. First, the paper gives an historic overview of Tunisian phosphate mining and its role in regional development. Second, it analyses the politics of Tunisia’s periphery, the role of the Union Générale Tunisienne du Travail within it and the emergence of new social actors. Third, it takes a detailed look at how such conflicts played out during the strikes in the phosphate mines in 2008 and after 2011. It concludes with an outlook on future developments.

Keywords:   Tunisia, Arab Spring, Mining, Trade unions, Social movements, Political economy

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