Gendered union trajectories in the Tunisian revolution – with Sarah Barrières

The ERC LIVE-AR project team is pleased to announce the seventh session of the monthly seminar series « Activists Pathways and Political Crises » . It will take place on April 30th 2024, from 2pm to 4pm (CET – Paris time). Our speaker will be Sarah Barrières (EHESS, CMH), who will present a lecture entitled « Gendered union trajectories in the Tunisian revolution ».

The session will take place at CEPED, Paris Cité University, Saint-Germain campus, and by videoconference, in French only.

Session Summary

During the Tunisian revolution, workplaces were in turmoil and a source of renewed social conflict. Sarah Barrières’ presentation will analyse the paths of two trade unionists during the Tunisian revolutionary process in terms of their place in gender relations. In the early stages of the workers’ protests (beginning of 2011), the two trade unionists occupied the same position in the trade union arena: both were general secretaries of the UGTT union structure in their private company, recognised as leaders in their workplace and appreciated by their colleagues. However, while one of them enjoyed a meteoric rise through the trade union ranks, the other was sacked, left jobless and banished from this militant space, even though the protest methods adopted by these grassroots union leaders were more or less the same. The Tunisian revolutionary process has reconfigured gender relations, in particular by broadening and renewing women’s protest and political practices, leading to new gender arrangements in both the public and private spheres. So how do we explain such contrasting trade union pathways? Through these two militant stories, we will highlight the weight of gender relations and the role of ‘co-optation’ in the selection of trade union officials in order to shed light on the biographical consequences of trade union militancy in a revolutionary situation.

Speaker’s biography

Sarah Barrières is a doctoral student in sociology at the EHESS and is attached to the Maurice Halbwachs Centre. Her thesis looks at workers’ and trade union resistance in several international subcontracting sectors during the revolutionary process in Tunisia. Drawing on a cross-reading of the sociology of work, gender studies and the sociology of political crises, the aim of this thesis is to analyse the effects of the Tunisian political crisis on the reconfiguration of gender relations in and through labour protests. She has recently published, with Abir Kréfa and Saba Le Renard (eds.), Le Genre en révolution. Maghreb et Moyen-Orient, 2010-2020, Lyon, Presses Universitaires de Lyon (PUL), Actions collectives, 2023​

For further information about the seminar and to register, please email the LIVE-AR project team (​