Shreya Parikh

(PhD Candidate, Department of Sociology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, USA / CERI-Sciences Po Paris, France)

Shreya Parikh is a Dual PhD. candidate in sociology at CERI-Sciences Po Paris and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her dissertation research focuses on the constructions and contestations of race and racialization in Tunisia through a focus on the experiences of racialization of Black Tunisians and Sub Saharan migrants. More broadly, she is interested in the study of race, religion, migration, and citizenship in West Asia and North Africa region and its diaspora. Her work has been funded by the Global Religion Research Initiative at the University of Notre Dame, Kenan Institute for Ethics at Duke University, and internal grants from her institutions of affiliation. Her research has been published in MERIP’s Middle East Report and IRMC’s Carnet; her op-eds have appeared in Nawaat (Tunisia), The Wire (India), ThePrint (India), and Dawn (Pakistan). Parikh grew up in Ahmedabad in India, and undertook her previous studies at Sciences Po Paris and the American University of Beirut.

Project Identities & Beliefs

Constructing and contesting Blackness in Tunisia

The goal of my dissertation project is to investigate race (a social construct) and racialization in Tunisia. I approach this investigation through the study of Black as a racial category because Blackness, i.e., set of constructed imaginations about what it means to be Black, is (re)produced, negotiated, and challenged in relation to other racial, ethnic, and national categories like White, Arab, Amazigh (indigenous populations), and Tunisian. Scholars of history have detailed the genealogies of Black enslaved populations brought to Tunisia from West Africa until the abolition of slavery in 1846 in Tunisia. Yet we know little about the processes and mechanisms through which this history plays into the construction of Black as racial category. In addition, in the last decade, Tunisia has become an important site of transit migration from Sub-Saharan Africa to Europe. What does the increasing presence of Sub-Saharan migrants in Tunisia add to historical layers of constructions of Black as a racial category? Through what processes and mechanisms do both darker-skinned Tunisians and Sub Saharan migrants undergo racialization, i.e., categorization as Black? To answer these questions, I rely primarily on interviews with Black Tunisians and Sub-Saharan migrants and observations in sites that host a significant number of these two groups