Ideology, Judgment, and Mourning in Syria
Ideology, Judgment, and Mourning in Syria
Drawing on extensive fieldwork and a variety of Syrian artistic practices, Wedeen lays bare the ideological investments that sustain ambivalent attachments to established organizations of power and contribute to the ongoing challenge of pursuing political change. This masterful book is a testament to Wedeen’s deep engagement with some of the most troubling concerns of our political present and future.
272 pages | 11 halftones, 6 line drawings | 6 x 9 | © 2018
Chicago Studies in Practices of Meaning
History: Middle Eastern History
Philosophy: Philosophy of Society
Political Science: Political Behavior and Public Opinion, Political and Social Theory
"Wedeen helps to answer the questions that have most perplexed scholars and commentators: how has Bashar al-Assad’s regime survived? And what explains the shrugging acceptance of it by so many ordinary Syrians? More broadly, she forces us to ponder the possibilities for political judgement in a world where facts no longer hold sway. . . . In this lucid and thought-provoking study, Wedeen shows us that, in the face of uncertainty, ambivalence and apathy thrive."
Times Literary Supplement
"Wedeen provide[s] a welcome shift in perspective. Instead of exclusively focusing on sectarian conflict, or attributing conflict to class warfare, [she] offers an analysis that closely considers how citizens have encountered the state in Syria, and how emotion and memory have played important roles in these experiences that are often neglected by political scientists."
"Authoritarian Apprehensions is the most theoretically insightful book on post–2011 Syria yet to appear."
“Through close reading of an astonishingly broad array of cultural materials, Authoritarian Apprehensions captures the transition from Syria’s neoliberal autocracy to civil war authoritarianism while eloquently conveying both the grief and resilience of her ethnographic subjects. This wonderfully written book complicates the conventional political science account of authoritarian resilience and provides a compelling contribution to the growing literature theorizing authoritarianism.”
Asli Bâli, University of California, Los Angeles, School of Law
“Subtle and immensely insightful, Authoritarian Apprehensions is an enlightening study into questions of cultural production in the context of power, brutality, and obedience to rule. Drawing on Wedeen’s long-standing research in and knowledge of Syria, it engages the question of what it means to produce creative works in times of political fragmentation, state atrocities, and assaulted polities. Written in a vivid literary style, this book is so incredibly beautiful that I couldn’t put it down once I started reading.”
Laleh Khalili, SOAS University of London
"Wedeen offers a most needed analysis of Syria and authoritarian permutations. The book even if addressing one of the darkest chapters in recent history, offers hope in its insistence on the human faculties of reason. I trust that this book will capture its readers with its push for new ground in the scholarly apprehension of the lures of authoritarianism in Syria and in the new global order, which has not dimmed in light of the current global COVID-19 situation, that alas, offers itself for parallel readings. As such, Authoritarian Apprehensions can be used for teaching on both BA and MA courses, however, the book demands attentiveness and effort. To all who takes up the book the dividends will be plenty."
"Wedeen’s subtle and poignant exploration. . . speaks to issues of failure, loss, mourning and the seemingly impossible necessity of moving on—issues that escape the narrow realm of the intellect. Authoritarian Apprehensions is one of those rare academic works that evokes aspects of the human condition that are as ineffable as they are tragic."
Daniel Neep | MERIP.org
Table of Contents
A Note on Transliteration
Introduction: “I Know Very Well, yet Nevertheless . . .”: Ideology, Interpellation, and the Politics of Disavowal
1. Neoliberal Autocracy and Its Unmaking
2. Humor in Dark Times
3. On Uncertainty: Fake News, Post-truth, and the Question of Judgment
4. Nationalism, Sentimentality, and Judgment
5. Fear and Foreboding
Conclusion: At a Loss
Appendix, by Sofia Fenner
IPSA Committee on Concepts and Methods: Award for Concept Analysis in Political Science
APSA Middle East and North Africa Politics Section: Best Book Award
APSA Interpretive Methodologies and Methods Section: Charles Taylor Book Award
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