By Lisa Wedeen
In Syria, identical to President Hafiz al-Asad is all over the place. In newspapers, on tv, and through orchestrated spectacles Asad is praised because the "father," the "gallant knight," even the country's "premier pharmacist." but so much 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 machine, producing a politics of public dissimulation during which voters act as if they respected their chief. by way of inundating lifestyle with drained symbolism, the regime workouts a sophisticated, but powerful kind of energy. The cult works to implement obedience, result in complicity, isolate Syrians from each other, and set directions for public speech and behaviour. Wedeen's ethnographic examine demonstrates how Syrians realize the disciplinary elements of the cult and search to undermine them. Provocative and unique, Ambiguities of Domination is an important contribution to comparative politics, political concept, and cultural studies.
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Additional info for Ambiguities of Domination: Politics, Rhetoric, and Symbols in Contemporary Syria
Wa al-sayyid al-ra'is). Everyone began to laugh, understanding that the publisher was poking fun at the ways in which the president seems to be inserted into every domain oflife, even the most personal or self-regarding. " Whenever I asked interview subjects to recite political slogans or provide phrases from the official discourse, they could invariably produce examples. At soccer games, where it is not uncommon for fans to protest an official's call by hurling bottles in his direction, this fluency could be used to protect transgressive Syrians from punishment.
The Federation for the Families of Martyrs was created in the aftermath of the 1967 War to provide for the material well-being of children whose KI LLI NG POLITICS fathers had been killed in battle. By 1973, Asad's figuration as father personified these concrete institutional mechanisms set in place in 1967 to subsidize families of martyrs. 54 Asad as the national father substituted for actual dead fathers and represented paternal protection, thereby signifying the acceptability- even advantages - of sacrifice while providing a symbolic assurance that the state would provide for fatherless families.
36 Only because the cult can wax and wane is it possible for Asad to be (1) the omnipresent leader in charge of events that unify and bring glory to Syrians and (2) absent from and innocent of events that are embarrassing or simply conflictual. On March 8, Asad reappeared in public press accounts. The headlines celebrated the Ba'thist revolution o£1963 which the March 8 holiday commemorates. Over one-and-one-half million people were reported to have rallied in the streets of Damascus to greet Asad.