Journal of Romance Studies

-Z-: Flamingos, francophonie, and the arts of urban dissent in Tunisia

Journal of Romance Studies (2017), 17, (2), 215–234.

Abstract

This article studies the environmentally conscious caricatures of the anonymous francophone Tunisian architect -Z-, as featured in his blog DEBATunisie. More particularly, it focuses on -Z-’s fervent criticism of Emirati real estate investments in Tunisia in the early 2000s. The article argues that -Z-’s caricatures expose us to a new phase of neoliberal practices in Tunisia in which nefarious megaprojects are no longer part of a colonial enterprise, but rather an essential feature of the rise of Gulf monarchies into global financial dominance. It also argues that the artist mobilizes a visual ecopoetics and uses the figure of the flamingo to disturb the logic of development advanced by Emirati developers and Tunisia’s ruling elite. Finally, the article explores the political power of producing satire in French in Tunisia today by examining the ways in which the perceived elitism of the French language can be counteracted by the accessibility of digital art.

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