Ambiguities of Domination : Politics, Rhetoric, and Symbols in Contemporary Syria / Edition 1

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Overview


In Syria, the image of President Hafiz al-Asad is everywhere. In newspapers, on television, and during orchestrated spectacles Asad is praised as the "father," the "gallant knight," even the country's "premier pharmacist." Yet most Syrians, including those who create the official rhetoric, do not believe its claims. Why would a regime spend scarce resources on a cult whose content is patently spurious?

Wedeen concludes that Asad's cult acts as a disciplinary device, generating a politics of public dissimulation in which citizens act as if they revered their leader. By inundating daily life with tired symbolism, the regime exercises a subtle, yet effective form of power. The cult works to enforce obedience, induce complicity, isolate Syrians from one another, and set guidelines for public speech and behavior. Wedeen's ethnographic research demonstrates how Syrians recognize the disciplinary aspects of the cult and seek to undermine them. Provocative and original, Ambiguities of Domination is a significant contribution to comparative politics, political theory, and cultural studies.

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What People Are Saying

Anne Norton
In this eagerly awainted book, Wedeen conveys with great force and intimacy the strategies, dilemmas, and paradoxes of authoritarianism in a very particular, very distinctive cultural context.
— Anne Norton is the author of Republic of Signs: Liberal Theory and American Popular Culture
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780226877884
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press
  • Publication date: 6/28/1999
  • Edition description: 1
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 244
  • Sales rank: 1,372,218
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author


Lisa Wedeen is professor in and chair of the Department of Political Science at the University of Chicago and the author of Peripheral Visions: Publics, Power, and Performance in Yemen.
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Table of Contents


Acknowledgments
A Note on Transliteration
1. Believing in Spectacles
2. Killing Politics: Official Rhetoric and Permissible Speech
3. Acting "As If": The Story of M
4. Signs of Transgression
5. Complicating Compliance
Notes
Bibliography
Index
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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 21, 2000

    Well researched but lacking punch

    Wedeen's book is thoroughly researched and written with penetrating anthropological vision. However, it is a touch on the dry side and therefore becomes a little tedious at times. All in all, I would recommend it, but make sure you have a cup of coffee to keep you awake!

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