Protest movements and collective action around access to farm land in Egypt and Tunisia. Mobilizations with no future ? - Archive ouverte HAL Access content directly
Conference Papers Year : 2020

Protest movements and collective action around access to farm land in Egypt and Tunisia. Mobilizations with no future ?


Both in Tunisia and in Egypt, the popular revolts that led to the fall of the Ben Ali and Mubarak regimes were preceded by numerous mobilizations in rural areas, where issues of access to farmland and a fairer distribution of resources have taken a central place. Referring to long-term processes, in particular the land privatization policies initiated in the 1980s, these mobilizations have gained in intensity after 2011 and have often taken unprecedented forms such as land occupations by landless or expropriated peasants and farmworkers. These occupations have mostly affected state-owned land managed by private companies in Tunisia and land reclaimed by the former owners under the 1992 counter-agricultural reform law in Egypt. They testify to the exacerbation of conflicts between farming groups with divergent interests and the opening up of political opportunity structures for actors hitherto marginalized by public and trade union action. Having sometimes benefited from the support of left-wing political groups in Tunisia, from local trade unions and human rights associations in Egypt, the initiators of these land mobilisations have found it however difficult to make themselves heard by public authorities and national trade union organisations. Even though land mobilizations have contributed to bringing the issue of agrarian reform back into the public debate, (especially in Tunisia), they rarely resulted in the satisfaction of the demands of landless or expropriated peasants. In Egypt, only a handful of tenants were able to recuperate lands from which they had been expelled. In Tunisia most of the state land occupied after 2011 has finally been recovered by the administration. Innovative experiences in the management of occupied public lands have nevertheless been promoted by local associations, such as that of the association for the development of the Jemna palm grove in southern Tunisia. Widely publicized in the national and international media, this experience has recently led the Tunisian authorities to explore alternative paths and rehabilitate the cooperative model for the management of part of the state-owned agricultural land undergoing restructuring. Based on a review of press articles and on interviews conducted with various actors involved in farm land conflicts and mobilizations between 2012 and 2014 in Egypt and until recently in Tunisia, and adopting a comparative and interactionist approach, this presentation has three main objectives: (i) to explore the stakes and the processes that drive mobilizations around access to farmland; (ii) to analyse the characteristics of these mobilisations, the actors involved, the claims and legitimations associated with them, the repertoires of action and the types of organisation to which they may give rise, (iii) to grasp the dynamics that enable or hinder the mobilized groups to make their voices heard, advance their cause and translate into reality their demands for greater justice in access to land. Particular attention will be paid to the relations between the actors involved in these mobilizations and the organizations from which they may or may not obtain support (associations, trade unions, political parties), as well as to the power relations that may be established with the public authorities.
No file

Dates and versions

hal-03989655 , version 1 (14-02-2023)


  • HAL Id : hal-03989655 , version 1


Alia Gana. Protest movements and collective action around access to farm land in Egypt and Tunisia. Mobilizations with no future ?. ECPR General Conference 2020, European Consortium for Political Research (ECPR), Aug 2020, InnsBruck, Austria. ⟨hal-03989655⟩
17 View
0 Download


Gmail Facebook X LinkedIn More