European capitalist penetration of Tunisia, 1860-1881: a case study of the regency's debt crisis and the establishment of the international financial commission
This study analyzes the process of socioeconomic and political transformation of the Tunis Regency during the mid-nineteenth century. The main focus is on the origins and consequences of the financial crisis which shook the Regency during the 1860s leading to its bankruptcy and the establishment of the Commission Financiere Internationale in 1869.In addition to drawing from local archives this study challenges European historians' Eurocentric assumptions about the local government and society. European historians described the local forces as apathetic and lacking a sense of social cohesion and political organization. They relied heavily on European official records and ignored the local society's great resilience and imagination in coping with the strong European political influence and economic penetration of the Regency.Several conclusions are drawn from this study including the existence of a link between European economic expansion into the Regency and the transformation of its political and legal structure. This transformation was favored by the European powers, namely France, England and Italy, whose nationals benefited and furthered their control over the Regency's vital economic sectors. Other major events are also brought to light to explain the relationship between the Regency's debt crisis and Europe's complex capitalist transformation and expansion.Finally this study draws attention to the need to move away from the prevailing Eurocentric perspective, which denies the local society a role in the shaping of its history. A more constructive approach needs to be considered by future researchers and should include important local archival material and contemporary eye-witness accounts. Comparisons between the Tunis Regency and other similar cases, such as Egypt and Turkey, also need to be drawn to shed light on the effects of European capitalist expansion on North African and Middle Eastern societies.
- History