By Lisa Wedeen
In Syria, a dead ringer for President Hafiz al-Asad is far and wide. In newspapers, on tv, and through orchestrated spectacles Asad is praised because the "father," the "gallant knight," even the country's "premier pharmacist." but such a lot Syrians, together with those that create the legit rhetoric, don't believe its claims. Why might a regime spend scarce assets on a cult whose content material is patently spurious?
Wedeen concludes that Asad's cult acts as a disciplinary equipment, producing a politics of public dissimulation within which voters act as if they respected their chief. via inundating lifestyle with drained symbolism, the regime routines a refined, but potent kind of energy. The cult works to implement obedience, set off complicity, isolate Syrians from each other, and set guidance for public speech and behaviour. Wedeen's ethnographic examine demonstrates how Syrians realize the disciplinary points of the cult and search to undermine them. Provocative and unique, Ambiguities of Domination is an important contribution to comparative politics, political conception, and cultural studies.
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Extra resources for Ambiguities of Domination: Politics, Rhetoric, and Symbols in Contemporary Syria
Dreams, like familial metaphors, offer a charged rhetorical terrain both for producing an idealized representation of the regime and for inviting subversive possibilities. Whether dreams are regarded as divinely inspired messages conveyed to selected ordinary humans or, in common post-Freudian terms, as unconscious, personal expressions of wishes and anxieties that find no outlet in daily life, dreams are suggestive of the private parts of ourselves. 71 72 CHAPTER THREE The officer's demand signals that actual dreams may remain private, but the soldiers' public claims must conform to the official national narrative.
7 Life is, of course, more complicated than the dichotomous choice Greenblatt offers. There are contexts in any regime in which people can treat their participation or the state's demands as irrelevant; there are also ways of being ironic or irreverent, some of them dangerous, as M's example shows, others perhaps permissable outlets. In the Syrian officer's case, as in the larger public world of official representations, power manifests itself in the regime's ability to impose its fictions upon the world.
In al-Tayyib Salih'sMawsim al-hijra ila al-shamal (Season of migration to the north) the male Sudanese hero inverts the relationship between the explicitly masculine colonizer and the effeminate colonized by compelling British women to commit suicide over him. In this male fantasy of the subaltern's revenge, the Western woman's victimization registers the colonized male's misogyny, but also his enduring weakness; he is, after all, unable to take revenge on the Western white men who initially feminized him.
Ambiguities of Domination: Politics, Rhetoric, and Symbols in Contemporary Syria by Lisa Wedeen