The use of political cartoons during popular protests: the case of the 2011 Tunisia uprising


  • Chaker Ali Mhamdi Manouba University, Tunisia Al Buraimi University College, Oman



Political cartoons, media discourse, graphic text, visual representation, Tunisian uprising, Arab Spring


This study investigates the use of political cartoons in the Tunisian context during its transitory phase in the aftermath of the 2011 uprising. It explores how political cartoons were used to critically reflect the socioeconomic and geopolitical conditions inTunisiaat that time. Additionally, it analyzes the predominant themes of Tunisian political cartoons during the transitory phase. To address these two research questions, this study uses a qualitative approach to analyze selected samples of political cartoons focusing on textual and graphic elements. The methodology adopted in this paper also employs textual analysis drawing upon semiotic theory addressing the framing of pictures, systems of signs, and visual aspects and modes of presentation.


Download data is not yet available.

Author Biography

Chaker Ali Mhamdi, Manouba University, Tunisia Al Buraimi University College, Oman

Assistant Professor of English and Cultural Studies

Director of Quality Assurance Department


Attardo, S., Eisterhold, J., Hay, J. and Poggi, I., 2003. “Multimodal markers of irony and sarcasm”. Humor 16 (2): 243-260.

Ayouni, A. 2013. <> (Accessed 17 Dec. 2014)

Belkhadi, B. 2011. <> (Accessed 17 Dec. 2014)

Benoit, W.L., Klyukovski A., McHale, J., and Airne, D. 2001.“A fantasy theme analysis of political cartoons on the Clinton-Lewinsky-Starr Affair”. Critical Studies in Media Communication 18 (4): 377-394.

Bleibel, H. 2014. <> (Accessed 17 Dec. 2014)

Burns, E. 2007. “Infamous scribblers: The founding fathers and the rowdy beginnings of American journalism”. Public Affairs 69: 526-527.

Conners, J.L. 2005. “Visual representations of the 2004 presidential campaign”. American. Behavioral Scientist 49 (3), 470-490.

Eisner, W. 2008. Comics and Sequential Art: Principles and Practices from The Legendary Cartoonist. New York: W.W. Norton and Company.

Eko, L. 2007. “It’s a political jungle out there”. International Communication Gazette 69 (3): 219.

El Refaie, E., 2003. “Understanding visual metaphor: The example of newspaper cartoons”. Visual communication 2 (1): 75-95.

El Refaie, E. 2009. “Multiliteracies: How readers interpret political cartoons”. Visual communication 8 (2): 181.

Fairclough, N. 1995. Media discourse. London: Arnold.

Giarelli, E., and Tulman, L. 2003. “Methodological issues in the use of published cartoons as data”. Qualitative Health Research 13 (7): 945.

Gocek, F.M. 1998.“Political cartoons as a site of representation and resistance in the middle east”. Principal Cartoons in the Middle East. Ed. M. F. Gocek. Princeton: Markus Wiener Publishers. 1-13.

Greenberg, J. 2002. “Framing and temporality in political cartoons: A critical analysis of visual news discourse”. Canadian Review of Sociology 39 (2): 181-198.

Groensteen, T. 2007. The System of Comics. Trans. Bart Beaty and Nick Nguyen. The United States of America: University Press of Mississippi.

Hanafi, A. 2013. <> (Accessed 17 Dec. 2014)

Hatfield, C. 2005. Alternative Comics: An Emerging Literature. The United States of America: University Press of Mississippi.

Howard, P.N., Duffy, A., Freelon, D., Hussain, M., Mari, W., and Mazaid, M. 2011. “Opening Closed Regimes: What Was the Role of Social Media During the Arab Spring?” Working Paper Project on Information Technology & Political Islam. 1-27.

Hutcheon, L. 1994. Irony’s edge: the theory & politics of irony. New York and London: Routledge.

Lefevre, P. 2012. “Mise en scene and framing”. Critical Approaches to Comics Theories and Methods. Eds. M. J. Smith, and R. Duncan. New York and London: Routledge. 71-83.

Khatib, L. 2013. Image politics in the Middle East: the role of the visual in political struggle. London-New York: I. B. Tauris.

Khiyari, N. 2013. <> (Accessed 17 Dec. 2014)

Kress, G.R. and Van-Leeuwen, T. 1998. “Front Pages. (The critical) analysis of newspaper layout”. Approaches to Media Discourse. Eds. A. Bell and P. Garrett. Oxford: Blackwell. 186-219.

Kress, G.R. and Van Leeuwen, T., 2006. Reading images: The grammar of visual design. London: Routledge.

Mahfouz, T. 2011. Arab culture, Vol.1: exploring the Arabic-speaking world through cartoons, satire, and humor. USA:

Majdoub, M. 2012. <> (Accessed 17 Dec. 2014)

McCloud, S. 1993. Understanding comics the invisible art. New York: HarperCollins Publishers.

Mechtat, M. 2011. <> (Accessed 17 Dec. 2014)

Medhurst, M.J. and DeSousa, M.A. 1981. “Political cartoons as rhetorical forms: A taxonomy of graphic discourse”. Communication Monographs 48: 197-236.

Mhamdi, C. 2014. <> (Accessed 17 Dec. 2014)

Mhamdi, C. 2016. “Transgressing media boundaries: News creation and dissemination in a globalized world”. Mediterranean Journal of Social Sciences 7 (5): 272-277.

Mhamdi, C. 2017a. “Framing ‘the Other’ in Times of Conflicts: CNN’s Coverage of the 2003 Iraq War”. Mediterranean Journal of Social Sciences 8 (2): 147-153.

Mhamdi, C. 2017b. “Interpreting Games: Meaning Creation in the Context of Temporality and Interactivity”. Mediterranean Journal of Social Sciences 8 (4): 39-46.

Morris, R. 1992. “Cartoons and the political system: Canada, Quebec, Wales, and England”. Canadian Journal of Communication 17 (2): 62.

Movement, C. 2012. <> (Accessed 17 Dec. 2014)

Ouerteni, O. 2014. <> (Accessed 17 Dec. 2014)

Romero, G. and Dahlman, L. 2012. “Justice framed: Law in comics and graphic novels”. Law Text Culture 16 (1): 3-32.

Samson, A.C. and Huber, O., 2007. “The interaction of cartoonist’s gender and formal features of cartoons”. Humor-International Journal of Humor Research 20 (1): 1-25.

Sani, I., Hayati, A.M., Mohamad, A.A., and Sathi, A.F. 2012a. “Linguistic analysis on the construction of satire in Nigerian political cartoons: The example of newspaper cartoons”. Journal of Media and Communication Studies 4 (3): 52-59.

Sani, I., Hayati, A.M., Mohamad, A.A., and Sathi, A.F. 2012b. “The role of humor in the construction of satire in Nigerian political cartoons”. Online Journal of Communication and Media Technologies 2 (3): 148-165.

Selden, R. 1989. Practicing Theory and Reading Literature. Kentucky: University Press of Kentucky.

Stouter, E., Wills, D. and Marlette, D. 2008. “Infestation and eradication: Political cartoons and exterminationist rhetoric in the war on terror”. Global Media Journal: Mediterranean Edition 3 (1): 11-23.

Totry, M. and Medzini, A. 2013. “The use of cartoons in popular protests that focus on geographic, social, economic and political issues”. European Journal of Geography 4 (1): 22-35.

Tsakona, V. 2009. “Language and image interaction in cartoons: Towards a multimodel theory of humor”. Journal of Pragmatics 41 (6): 1171-1188.

Zaghbi, A. 2011.<> (Accessed 17 Dec. 2014)

Wozniak, M. 2014. “Mirror, mirror on the wall: political cartoons of the Arab spring”. Hemispheres 29 (6): 5-22.




How to Cite

Mhamdi, C. A. (2017). The use of political cartoons during popular protests: the case of the 2011 Tunisia uprising. Journal of English Studies, 15, 193–220.