Tunisia: Emerging Identities in North Africa
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Study at the intersections of Africa, the Middle East, and Europe.
As the northernmost country on the African continent, just south of Europe, Tunisia is the most Mediterranean country in North Africa, particularly in terms of customs and lifestyle. This location provides an ideal setting for students to study the factors driving the emergence of new identities and the multifaceted forces — both local and global — shaping contemporary social movements across North Africa that sparked the Jasmine Revolution. Students are challenged to identify both the manifest and discrete cultural phenomena shaping Tunisian and Arab identity that were instrumental in sparking the Arab Spring.
Live in cosmopolitan Tunis.
During the first seven weeks of the program, students live with host families in the northern suburbs of Tunis and attend lectures and seminars given by prominent academics from Tunis University. During this period, students visit historic and cultural centers including the ancient site of Carthage and the city's medina.
Through SIT's partnership with the renowned research center CEMAT (Center for Maghrib Studies in Tunis), students engage with local and international students and academics focused on identity and social change.
Take thematic courses on Arab identity and learn how Arab popular culture is being reshaped by youth, media, and social movements.
Students examine the following topics as part of the program’s thematic seminar:
- North African social movements, including the dynamics and expansion of women, Islamist, and human rights movements
- Youth and globalization. Topics include youth in relation to unemployment, Islam, emigration, political participation, and hip-hop culture. Students have the chance to discuss these topics directly with Tunisian young adults; they also visit youth clubs, NGOs, radio and TV stations targeting youth audiences, and higher education institutes devoted to training "youth cultural instructors."
- Mass media and culture, including the proliferation of media outlets in the region, especially through satellite television; the effects and impacts of new technologies on the imagined Arab identity; and how phenomena such as Al-Jazeera and the Internet have given shape to a new understanding of national identity in the Arab world.
- Islam, secularism, and identity, including debates in relation to the veil, cyber Islam, the state and Sharia Law, and religious radio programs
Independent Study Project (ISP)
Students spend the last four weeks of the program completing an ISP in which they directly apply the concepts and skills acquired from previous coursework and experiential exercises. The ISP gives students the opportunity to critically examine a topic, community, or situation of particular interest to them.
Topics for consideration include:
- The new state and civil society
- The Arab Spring and the tourist industry
- Political cartoons
- Identity formation through Islamic education
- Governance and youth empowerment
- Bluetooth and dating
- Arab reality TV
- Malls and social change
- Sexuality in Islam
- Women's movements in North Africa
"My experience in Tunisia with SIT was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. The academic content was tremendously enriching, and I expanded myself greatly intellectually. The program is very well thought out."
-- Lindsay Novis, Fordham University
Duration: 15 weeks
Program Base: Sidi Bou Said, on the outskirts of Tunis
Language Study: Arabic, French
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