Identity Constructions and the Mediation of Cultural Heritage in Tunisian TV Series

The history of the Arab world and the history of Maghreb especially are marked by different cultural influences. These are reflected in the present-day cultural understanding of Tunisian society, which views itself, despite a pronounced national consciousness, as a multi- if not intercultural society.

The construction of a national identity and the mediation of cultural heritage thus exist in a field of tension between Western European and Arab-Islamic influences as well as between tradition and modernity. These differences are evident from the morphologically completely different forms of the traditional old city, the colonial-era sites, and the newer city neighborhoods in metropolitan Tunis. Insofar as the different neighborhoods each possess culturally different lifestyles and associated ethical value systems, it follows that on the material as well as immaterial levels there is an urban, intercultural network. Tunis is therefore staged on various levels as a city and as an essential symbol for the construction of a national identity and equally as a object of reference for the mediation of cultural heritage (patrimoine); both are directly based on intercultural factors.

This “image of the city” is potentialized, transformed, and transported in that it becomes a constantly recurring motif of Tunisian television programs, which are broadcast throughout Tunisia every evening in the month of Ramadan. Insofar as the locations of the action are set in culturally varying city neighborhoods, direct references to the underlying intercultural influences are made. By means of television, originally a Westernized medium, and the family series format, whose conception was likewise initially Western-based, a unique intercultural dynamic is created that renews the image of the city and along with it the symbol of national identity also marked as a mediation of cultural heritage (patrimoine).

The aim of the project is to explicate the fundamental intercultural factors that co-determine the construction of a national identity and the mediation of cultural heritage in Tunisian television series.

Term of Project: 2007

Project Members:
Prof. Anton Escher (Geography)
Prof. Abdehamid Larguèche (Professor of History at the Université de Manouba, Faculty of Literature, Arts and Humanities)