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Part 1 | Conflicts that Create Consensus

Workers vs Machines: Ottoman Tunis between Industrialisation and Colonisation

Nora Lafi

Abstract

The Ottoman province of Tunis between the 1850s and its integration into the French colonial sphere in the 1880s, was marked by the emergence of new issues directly arising from an international configuration undergoing profound change. This chapter aims to analyse the relationship between economic development, geopolitics and local issues in the last decades during which the province belonged to the Empire. It will home in on an emblematic conflict, one related to the fate of workers and artisans in fez factories as they protested against what they saw as unfair competition imposed by the European powers, and against the industrialisation that followed the mechanisation of production. These new operating conditions, in a market subject to the growing dominance of foreign trade and to instability in local production, gave rise to many protests. This chapter endeavours to compare and contrast the different levels and scales of this sector, to explain the impact of a new global dimension on local balances and the vectors of a new form of foreign interference. These conflicts also involved different ways of negotiating the reformed relationship between the Ottoman Empire and its province of Tunis in the face of the threat of ever-increasing foreign domination and colonisation. Focusing on the voices of the most modest local players, who spoke out to condemn the deterioration of their living conditions, and on the local and international context, the goal is to see the dynamic interrelation between different levels and issues, and individual destinies and wider perspectives, at a time of great historical change.

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Editor's notes

Paperback reference: Lafi, Nora (2017, forthcoming) ‘Workers vs Machines: Ottoman Tunis between Industrialisation and Colonisation’ in Development as a Battlefield, International Development Policy series No.8 (Geneva, Boston: Graduate Institute Publications, Brill-Nijhoff).

References

Electronic reference

Nora Lafi, « Workers vs Machines: Ottoman Tunis between Industrialisation and Colonisation », International Development Policy | Revue internationale de politique de développement [Online], 8.0 |  2017, Online since 04 May 2017, connection on 26 May 2017. URL : http://poldev.revues.org/2309 ; DOI : 10.4000/poldev.2309

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About the author

Nora Lafi

Nora Lafi is a historian at the Leibniz-Zentrum Moderner Orient in Berlin, Germany. She also teaches at the Free University of Berlin (Faculty of Islamwissenschaft) and the Berlin Graduate School Muslim Cultures and Societies.

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Copyright

Creative Commons License
International Development Policy is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

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