Rory McCarthy (Magdalen College, Oxford) gives a talk for the Middle East Centre seminar series, chaired by Michael Willis (St Antony's College).
In the wake of the Arab uprisings, the Tunisian Islamist movement al-Nahda voted to transform itself into a political party that would for the first time withdraw from a preaching project built around religious, social, and cultural activism. This turn to the political was not a Tunisian exception but reflects an urgent debate within Islamist movements as they struggle to adjust to a rapidly changing political environment. Drawing on extensive fieldwork, Rory McCarthy explores the lived experience of Islamist activism to offer a challenging new perspective on one of the Middle East's most successful Islamist projects. Original evidence explains how al-Nahda survived two decades of brutal repression in prison and in social exclusion, and reveals what price the movement paid for a new strategy of pragmatism and reform during the transition away from authoritarianism.