chapter  8
18 Pages

We’re not for sale

The political dimension of Tunisian scenes
ByStefano Barone

The chapter proposes some analyses about the politics of music making in Tunisia. Revolution, and post-revolutionary transition are here central themes that help explaining how the sceneness of metal, rap, and electro is, in Tunisia, a political issue. The chapter opens with a section on the political economy of Tunisian rap. It explains how Tunisian governance disciplines the rap scene through inclusion in the mechanisms of the political system and the State-sanctioned music industry, and through repression (i.e. through arrests and censorship). Rappers, in turn, participate into such governance by joining the political competition, becoming enmeshed in clientelism, and taking part into NGOs’ initiatives and the solidarity economy. Then, the chapter focuses on metal and its encounters with the political history of contemporary Tunisia. This analysis gives a response to one of the main questions in the book: why did metal decay after the revolution, while electro and rap flourished? It does so by highlighting the political contradictions of metal: the scene had an ambiguous relationship to Ben Ali’s modernism before the revolution, and its “elite marginality” made it peripheral in the Arab Spring’s aftermath.