Research Portal

July 1, 2022

Preservation and Tourism in Tunisia: On the Colonial Past in the Neocolonial Present

Coslett, Daniel E. (2020). Preservation and Tourism in Tunisia: On the Colonial Past in the Neocolonial Present. Journal Of North African Studies, 25(5), 727 – 752.

View Publication


Historic built environments of the modern colonial era survive in cityscapes of former colonies the world over, often featuring largely in the projected urban identities of cities in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. Tunisia is no exception. The complex relationships between extant architectures of colonialism and current users, designers, and preservationists there are shifting within the context of contemporary globalization. Though ties between Europe, France, and Tunisia are less overt than they once were-now taking the form of international development loans, professional and educational exchanges, tourism programmes, popular culture and the media-they are nonetheless significant in their sustained influence. This article explores the nature and products of neocolonialism in postcolonial heritage management and tourism practices, using several case studies from Tunis including curated medina walking tours, the renovation of the Avenue Bourguiba, and expansion of the renowned Bardo Museum. Rather than dismissing contemporary preservation and tourism management practices, the article invites further debate regarding the influence of foreign actors, conservation approaches, and potential alternatives for the future of heritage management in a rapidly changing Tunisia.


Heritage Tourism; Tourism; Tourism Management; Foreign Loans; Educational Exchanges; Stone Age; Food Tourism; Tunisia; Tunis (tunisia); Heritage Management; Historic Preservation; Neocolonialism; Tunis