MEDINA (UN / IN) MAKING: An exploration of cultural heritage making, narratives and actors in the historic Medina of Tunis

By: Dina Mneimneh

This dissertation explores the process of heritage making in the historic city of Medina, Tunis and its
contribution towards an alternative understanding of cultural heritage. Drawing on critical heritage
theory, heritage making is defined as a process of creative space appropriation and narrative
creation. It has been particularly undertaken by cultural actors of the civil society in Medina. After
the Tunisian revolution in 2011, creative associations and artistic collectives have been stirring
multiple forms of urban change. This dissertation investigates their role in contesting the authorized
meanings and practices of heritage in Medina, a UNESCO World heritage site, and examine their
creative spatial initiatives that introduce alternative forms of engagement with Medina’s cultural
heritage assets. I argue that although their initiatives are animating the space of Medina on the
multiple cultural, social and political levels, they are failing to draw multidimensional linkages with
the rest of urban actors and to inscribe their work within a comprehensive plan of urban
development of the city