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Williams College

Publication Date

Fall 2015

Program Name

Tunisia: Emerging Identities in North Africa


Within in the current decade, refuse has secured a prominent presence in urban Tunisian streets. The evolution of this garbage issue has its origins in the late 20th century and early 21st century, reaching a watershed moment in the Jasmine Revolution (January 2011). After the Revolution, both altered municipal authority structures and changing norms of citizens’ behaviors led to an increase of litter and trash. The detritus in the streets brings many negative side-effects that influence health, aesthetic, and mental well-being. The focus of this paper is the urban Tunisian’s reactions of and behaviors on garbage and their effect on public space. The northern Tunis suburb of La Marsa was chosen as the area of focus of this research in order to narrow the complexities of the subject matter to a specific municipality. Interviews from La Marsa municipal officials, NGOs that focus on environment and political efforts, and a sample of 18 ordinary residents of La Marsa were completed to investigate the topic. Observations from around La Marsa were similarly gathered to support various claims. This exploration tries to map out the complex interplay between citizens awareness, government actors, businesses, community, civil society associations, and the general social and cultural environment that creates and controls public space.


Civic and Community Engagement | Place and Environment | Politics and Social Change | Public Affairs, Public Policy and Public Administration | Urban Studies and Planning



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