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Radicalism on the Periphery: History, Collective Memory, and the Cultural Resonance of Jihadist Ideology in Tunisia

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This article explores sub-national variation in jihadist Salafist mobilization through a comparative analysis of two Tunisian interior towns: Sidi Bouzid and Metlaoui. After the Arab Spring, while Sidi Bouzid emerged as a bastion of jihadist Salafism and Islamic State foreign fighter recruitment, the movement failed to gain broad-based legitimacy in Metlaoui. On the basis of the comparison, this study introduces a new explanation for the variation in jihadist mobilization: state-building legacies and collective memory. During the 20th century, Sidi Bouzid and Metlaoui were subjected to divergent processes of forced political incorporation that this study argues have had implications for how contemporary citizens respond to jihadist rhetoric. The final part of the article discusses how this insight informs the study of jihadist Salafism in other contexts.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 January 2019

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  • Comparative Politics is an international journal that publishes scholarly articles devoted to the comparative analysis of political institutions and behavior. It was founded in 1968 to further the development of comparative political theory and the application of comparative theoretical analysis to the empirical investigation of political issues. Comparative Politics communicates new ideas and research findings to social scientists, scholars, and students, and is valued by experts in research organizations, foundations, and consulates throughout the world.
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