If the Arab uprisings seemed initially to herald the end of tyrannies and a move toward liberal democratic governments, their current defeat not only marks a reversal but is of a piece with new forms of authoritarianism emerging worldwide. This convergence on authoritarianism has prompted scholars to wonder with renewed urgency why citizens are so often attracted to dictatorial rule. This talk is based on Lisa Wedeen’s book, Authoritarian Apprehensions: Ideology, Judgment, and Mourning in Syria (Chicago 2019). It draws on extensive fieldwork and a variety of Syrian artistic practices to examine the way ideological investments sustain subjects’ ambivalent attachments to autocratic political power. The talk will also explore some of the dynamics of civil war contention and ongoing activist visions of living otherwise.
Prof Lisa Wedeen is a Mary R. Morton Professor of Political Science and Co-Director of the Chicago Centre for Contemporary Theory at the University of Chicago. She is also Associate Faculty in Anthropology. Her books include Ambiguities of Domination: Politics, Rhetoric, and Symbols in Contemporary Syria (Chicago 1999); Peripheral Visions: Publics, Power, and Performance in Yemen (Chicago 2008); and Authoritarian Apprehensions: Ideology, Judgment, and Mourning in Syria (Chicago 2019).
This conversation will be facilitated by Dr Toni Rouhana, Post-Doctoral Research Associate on the Civil War Paths project, working on understanding the role that sect identities play before, during, and after the wars that took place in Syria, Iraq, and Lebanon.