In the framework of the European Research Council (ERC) research programme
When Authoritarianism Fails in the Arab World (WAFAW)



at the National Library
Boulevard du 9 Avril 1938
1008 Tunis


Following the 2010/2011 Tunisian and Egyptian revolutions, protest movements and political transitions in the Arab World have attracted a great deal of media coverage and academic attention -with many scientific and cultural events (conferences, symposiums, workshops) trying to make sense of the events.

However, the role of diasporas, binationals and exiles in the for and against regimes mobilisation has been widely overlooked. The primary focus of social science researchers and public decision makers has been on Arab “domestic actors”, on the role of state powers (United States, Russia and China), and the strategic regional stakes (domino effect). More often than not, this perspective has ignored the involvement of diasporic actors, migrants and exiles in the socio-political transformations of the Arab world. As a result, migrations and diasporas represent a blind spot of the studies of the Arab revolutions, even though many transition governments stem from the ranks of these actors. In the cases where regimes fell, economic migrants and political exiles expressed their rekindled feeling of national belonging, leading us to think of Anderson concept of “long-distance nationalism” in host countries, precisely where it was not encouraged. In the rest of the Arab World in crisis (Syria, Bahrain etc.), the exile opposition is an essential component of the dissenting political field.

The newly visible engagement of Arab diasporas, migrants and exiles in the pro- and anti-regime movement in 2011 and in political transitions, raises a number of new questions in the field of migration in/from the Arab world: how did the 2011 rupture and the new range of possibilities it opened present the conditions under which “long-distance nationalism” can be created and shaped, beyond the limited circles of political exiles?  How did the uprisings, their repression as well as the authoritarian regaining of control confer a new relevance and salience to opposition groups abroad? How do the regimes manage the relations with these transnational actors?

This international conference, open to all, aims to inquire into the ways in which diasporas, migrants and exiles have participated in the political changes at work in the Arab world. Participants are invited to move away from the dichotomy between domestic and international spaces for engagement.



3rd floor hall

9:00-9:15: Official Opening of the International Conference

François BURGAT, WAFAW principal investigator, Institut de recherches et d’études sur le monde arabe et musulman (IREMAM), Aix-en-Provence.

Karima DIRÈCHE, director of the Institut de recherche sur le Maghreb contemporain (IRMC), Tunis.

9:15-9:45: Presentation of the conference: rationale and themes

Claire BEAUGRAND & Vincent GEISSER (WAFAW core-researchers, Institut français du Proche-Orient (Ifpo) and scientific organisers of the conference).

9:45-11:00: Session n°1 – Distance mobilisations among the Arab Diasporas : Restructuring and Fragmenting Trends.

Chair: Myriam CATUSSE, WAFAW core-researcher, director of the Department of contemporary studies, Ifpo, Beirut.

  • L’événement «Révolution» comme point de bifurcation dans les parcours individuels des migrant-e-s égyptien-ne-s en France ? [The “Revolution” event as a Bifurcation Point in the Trajectories of Egyptian Migrants in France?], Celia LAMBLIN, PhD candidate, Aix-Marseille University.
  • Représenter et être représenté : enjeux politiques et symboliques autour du projet de création d’un conseil des Tunisiens de l’étranger [Political and Symbolic Stakes of ‘Representing and Being Represented’: the Project of a Council for Tunisians Abroad], Wajdi LIMAM, Master student, Ecole des hautes études en sciences sociales (EHESS), Paris.
  • L’appartenance à distance des Marocains de France après le 20 février 2011: Jeux de miroirs en situation migratoire [Distance Belonging of Moroccans in France after 20 February 2011: Mirror Images in Migratory Situations], Antoine DUMONT, Migrinter, Poitiers.
  • Discussion (30 minutes)

11:00-11:30: Coffee break.

11:30-12:45: Session n°2 – Rethinking Engagements and Activist Legacies in the Light of the 2011 Protest Movements.

Chair: Laurent BONNEFOY, WAFAW deputy principal investigator, Centre d’études et de recherches internationales (CERI)/Sciences Po, Paris.

  • “Soldiers of Bashar in South America”: The Syrian Diaspora in Argentina and in Brazil, the Ba‘thist Regime and the Syrian Uprising, Cecilia BAEZA, Getulio Vargas Foundation São Paulo & Paulo PINTO, Fluminense Federal University, Niteroi.
  • The Impact of Transnational Repression on Diaspora Activism during the Arab Revolutions, Dana MOSS, PhD candidate, University of California, Irvine.
  • Diaspora in the Making? The New Trajectories of the Third Bahraini Wave of Exile, Claire BEAUGRAND, WAFAW core-researcher, Ifpo, Palestinian Territories.
  • Discussion (30 minutes)

12:45-14:00: Lunch at the National Library.

14:00-15:30: Session n°3 – The Returnees and the New forms of Social and Political Investments in the Countries of Origin.

Chair: Michaël BECHIR-AYARI, International Crisis Group (ICG).

  • Etre député après l’exil : stratégies d’ancrage et de légitimation d’une élite militante revenue en Tunisie après le 14 janvier [Being a Member of Parliament after Returning from Exile: Activist Elites’ Strategies to Get Anchored and Legitimate in Tunisia after 14 January], Déborah PEREZ, PhD candidate, Ecole Normale Supérieure, Paris and IRMC, Tunis.
  • Langue et Engagement Politique. Les Langues Décentrées de la Diaspora Tunisienne [Language and Political Engagement: Off-Centered Languages of the Tunisian Diaspora],
    Stéphanie POUESSEL, European University Institute (EUI), Florence and IRMC, Tunis.
  • Libya’s Opposition Abroad, Actors of Change in a Fragmented, Internally Divided State? Timothy POIRSON, PhD candidate, Saint Andrews University.
  • Les acteurs diasporiques au service d’une « modernisation » politique. L’expérience des « returnees » de seconde génération en Palestine [Diasporic Actors Serving Political “Modernisation.” The Second Generation’s “Returnees” in Palestine], Xavier GUIGNARD, PhD candidate, Paris I University.
  • Discussion (30 minutes)

15:30-16:00: Coffee break.

16:00-17:15: Session n°4 – Public Debates on Bi-Nationals and The Role of Diasporas in the Formation of Public Opinions.

Chair: Nicolas DOT-POUILLARD, WAFAW core-researcher, Ifpo, Beirut.

  • Entre inclusion et exclusion, la place des binationaux dans les textes juridiques après la promulgation de la constitution tunisienne du 27 janvier 2014 [Between Exclusion and Inclusion: the Status of Bi-Nationals in the Legal Texts after the Promulgation of the 27 January 2014 Tunisian Constitution], Nadia TARHOUNI, PhD candidate, EHESS, Paris.
  • The U.S. Coptic Diaspora and the Limits of Polarization, Nadia MARZOUKI, Centre d’études sociologiques et politiques Raymond Aron/EHESS, Paris and EUI-ReligioWest, Florence.
  • Le rôle des journalistes diasporiques dans les révolutions arabes, [The Role of Diasporic Journalists in the Arab Revolutions], Mohamed EL OIFI, Sciences Po, Paris.
  • Discussion (30 minutes)

Dinner at the Hotel Sidi Bou Saïd.

21:00: Hotel Sidi Bou Saïd – Documentary film screening: «7 Vies » [7 Lives] in memory of Azza Turki and in presence of the film directors Lilia Blaise and Amine Boufaïed.

The documentary deals with the nostalgia of the Ben Ali dictatorship, three years after the Revolution in Tunisia.


Ground Floor Hall

9:30-11:30: Session n°5 – New Exile Trajectories and New Countries of Asylum.

Chair: Hassan BOUBAKRI, professor at Sousse University, member of Migrinter academic network.

  • La question des migrations aux lendemains des « révolutions arabes » en Méditerranée,[The Migration Issue in the Aftermath of the “Arab Revolutions” in the Mediterranean Region] Catherine WIHTOL de WENDEN, CERI/Sciences Po, Paris.
  • Migrations, exil et « printemps arabes » : quelques pistes d’analyse sur les conséquences migratoires de changements politiques à partir des cas particuliers du Yémen et de l’Arabie saoudite, [Migrations, Exile and “Arab Spring”: A Few Reflections on the Migratory Consequences of the Political Upheavals : the Cases of Yemen and Saudi Arabia], Hélène THIOLLET, CERI/Sciences Po, Paris.
  • A Preliminary Study on the Formation of the Syrian Business Community in Turkey after the Revolution of 2011, Ching-an CHANG, PhD candidate, University of Edinburgh.
  • Exil, business et politique à Istanbul : les hommes d’affaires de l’AKP et les Frères musulmans égyptiens réfugiés en Turquie, [Exile, Business and Politics in Istanbul: AKP Businessmen and the Egyptian Muslim Brothers’ Refugees in Turkey], Marie VANNETZEL, WAFAW post-doc, CERI/Sciences Po, Paris & Dilek YANKAYA, WAFAW post-doc, IREMAM, Aix-en-Provence.
  • Imbrication révolutionnaire : mobilisations à distance des opposants politiques syriens et confrontation aux transitions politiques égyptiennes (2011-2014) [Revolutionary Intertwining: Distance Mobilisations of Syrian Political Opponents and their Confronting the Egyptian Political Transition (2011-2014)], Maaï YOUSSEF, PhD Candidate, Paris I University.
  • Discussion (30 minutes)

11:30-12:00: Coffee break.

12:00-13:30: Session n°6 – Migrants Political Influence and their Participation in Electoral Processes.

Chair: Catherine WIHTOL DE WENDEN, CERI/Sciences Po, Paris

  • Transnational Mobilizations in the Egyptian (Post)revolutionary Process. Reflections on comparing transnational political participation, Lea MUELLER-FUNK, PhD Candidate, Vienna University.
  • Paying the Piper, Calling the Tune? Assessing the Impact of Emigration on Egypt’s post-2011 Foreign Policy, Gerasimos TSOURAPAS, PhD candidate, School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), London.
  • Alger-Paris, aller-retour: Chemins d’une dissidence publique [Return Trip between Algiers and Paris: the Paths of Public Dissidence], Warda HADJAB, PhD candidate, EHESS, Paris.
  • Géographie du vote à distance: l’élection tunisienne de 2011 à l’étranger [The Geography of External Voting: The 2011 Tunisian Election Abroad], Thibaud JAULIN, CERI/Sciences Po, Paris.
  • Discussion (30 minutes)

13:30-13:45: Concluding remarks with Stéphane LACROIX, WAFAW core-researcher, CERI/Sciences Po.

13:30-14:45: Lunch at the National Library.