Ambiguities of Domination: Politics, Rhetoric, and Symbols by Lisa Wedeen

By Lisa Wedeen

Treating rhetoric and emblems as relevant instead of peripheral to politics, Lisa Wedeen’s groundbreaking booklet bargains a compelling counterargument to people who insist that politics is essentially approximately fabric pursuits and the teams advocating for them. through the thirty-year rule of President Hafiz al-Asad’s regime, his photograph used to be in every single place. In newspapers, on tv, and through orchestrated spectacles. Asad used to be praised because the “father,” the “gallant knight,” even the country’s “premier pharmacist.” but such a lot Syrians, together with those that create the legitimate rhetoric, didn't think its claims. Why could a regime spend scarce assets on a character cult whose content material is patently spurious?

Wedeen indicates how such flagrantly fictitious claims have been in a position to produce a politics of public dissimulation during which electorate acted as though they respected the chief. by way of inundating lifestyle with drained symbolism, the regime exercised a sophisticated, but potent type of strength. The cult labored to implement obedience, result in complicity, isolate Syrians from each other, and set instructions for public speech and behaviour. Wedeen‘s ethnographic learn demonstrates how Syrians well-known the disciplinary elements of the cult and sought to undermine them. In a brand new preface, Wedeen discusses the rebellion opposed to the Syrian regime that all started in 2011 and questions the usefulness of the idea that of legitimacy in attempting to learn and comprehend authoritarian regimes.

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