Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name





Vincent Crapanzano

Committee Members

Marc Edelman

Christa Salamandra

Beth Baron

Veena Das

Subject Categories

Near and Middle Eastern Studies | Political Theory | Social and Cultural Anthropology


transitional justice, reparation, new social media, Islam, the veil, martyrdom


This dissertation is an ethnographic study of “dignity” (karāma): the aspiration that ignited the 2011 Tunisian uprising and endures as the moral force animating democratization efforts in its aftermath. Through the lens of the Truth and Dignity Commission (2014-2018)—a human rights instrument where a locally nominated body investigates historical injustices of the fallen regime and recommends reparations for its victims— my dissertation examines three intersecting histories of state violence: veiled women who were legally and systematically denied the right to practice their religious tradition openly (1982-2013); political prisoners placed under “Administrative Control” upon their release and denied employment, housing, and political participation (1987-2013); and the “Martyrs and Injured of the Revolution” who were shot by the national guard during the 2011 demonstrations. I analyze how their different historical grievances—based on gender, religion, and class, respectively—stake competing appeals to “dignity.” This study thus examines dignity as a theory of moral justice that may never be realized, but the claims to which bring into focus the role of moral values in mobilizing the Arab Spring and shaping its still unfolding aftermaths.

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