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Ambiguities of Domination: Politics, Rhetoric, and Symbols in Contemporary Syria Paperback – June 15, 1999

ISBN-13: 978-0226877884 ISBN-10: 0226877884 Edition: 1st

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Ambiguities of Domination: Politics, Rhetoric, and Symbols in Contemporary Syria + Peripheral Visions: Publics, Power, and Performance in Yemen (Chicago Studies in Practices of Meaning)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 251 pages
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press; 1 edition (June 15, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226877884
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226877884
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #342,577 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About 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.

Customer Reviews

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Tron Honto on March 23, 2004
Format: Paperback
When I first traveled to Syria in the late 90's, I found the eerie, creepy phenomenon of what Wedeen terms Syria's state cult to be the most inscrutable, absurd and mind-boggling feature of the entire land-scape. After Asad's death, the succession of his son, Bashar, saw the ubiquity of his father's visage decline noticeably but still it did by no means disappear.
Wedeen's work does forcefully and with keen insight what I once thought was impossible. Though known to be patently absurd by all Syrians, inside and outside the elite, Wedeen argues cogently that this cult in its own way reinforces power for the state by demarcating the boundaries of political practice 'as if'...i.e., politics in Syria are to be practiced AS IF the cult expresses reality. Her analysis also broadens to include investigations of the vast amount of state resources squandered on the cult and the circumscribed efforts to resist and protest the gov't. Highly recommended reading for anyone studying the modern Middle East.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By tarihci202 on April 17, 2006
Format: Paperback
This engaging and often witty work asks the basic question, "how do rituals and symbols that are widely understood to be false or absurd help to support a regime?" Her answers help to complicate our understanding of the relationship between state symbolism and legitimacy in authoritarian states.

Happily, the value of this work is not limited to political theory. Indeed, for most readers, these theoretical issues will be secondary to the insights and observations Wedeen offers regarding the workings of the brutal and repressive Syrian regime. Her authorial tone is wry and, despite its theoretical sophistication, this is an easy work to read. In particular, her reliance on everyday communications and popular media and the breadth of examples she provides bring Syrian society to life in a way that few academic works have.
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15 of 22 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 27, 1999
Format: Paperback
One of the best studies I have ever read on the nature of power and domination. Wedeen asks the simple question of how Asad is able to keep power in Syria when all of the people know that all of the state propaganda is false. Her elegant answer gets right to the heart of what makes a ruler powerful. Asad rules not through totalitarianism, but through authoritarianism. What's the difference? A ruler who controls everything that the people think (like in North Korea) is not really dominating them, they just don't know any better. But a ruler like Asad rules because the people fear him and become unable to dissent as a result of Foucault-ian discursive practices.
This book will facinate anyone interested in the modern Middle East or the nature of power.
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6 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 16, 1999
Format: Paperback
A ground-breaking exploration of the subtle ways power operates to structure everyday life. Rich in ethnographic detail and eloquently written. Definitely worth _much_ more than $17. A worthy read, not just for people interested in contemporary Middle Eastern politics, but for those interested in issues of power, discipline and resistance. Ms. Wedeen is a rising star in the field of Political Science. Bravo!!
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