Northwestern Events Calendar


Authoritarian Apprehensions: Ideology, Judgment, and Mourning in Syria (Lisa Wedeen)

When: Monday, May 4, 2020
12:30 PM - 1:30 PM CT

Where: Kresge Hall, Room 1-515 (The Forum), 1880 Campus Drive , Evanston, IL 60208 map it

Audience: Faculty/Staff - Student - Public - Post Docs/Docs - Graduate Students

Cost: Free

Contact: Danny Postel   (847) 467-1131

Group: Middle East and North African Studies

Category: Lectures & Meetings, Global & Civic Engagement, Women 150


Please join the Middle East and North African Studies Program for this discussion with Lisa Wedeen on her new book, Authoritarian Apprehensions: Ideology, Judgment, and Mourning in Syria.

If the Arab uprisings initially heralded the end of tyrannies and a move toward liberal democratic governments, their defeat not only marked a reversal but was of a piece with emerging forms of authoritarianism worldwide. In Authoritarian Apprehensions, Lisa Wedeen draws on her decades-long engagement with Syria to offer an erudite and compassionate analysis of this extraordinary rush of events—the revolutionary exhilaration of the initial days of unrest and then the devastating violence that shattered hopes of any quick undoing of dictatorship.

Developing a fresh, insightful, and theoretically imaginative approach to both authoritarianism and conflict, Wedeen asks, What led a sizable part of the citizenry to stick by the regime through one atrocity after another? What happens to political judgment in a context of pervasive misinformation? And what might the Syrian example suggest about how authoritarian leaders exploit digital media to create uncertainty, political impasses, and fractures among their citizens?
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.

Lisa Wedeen is the Mary R. Morton Professor of Political Science and the College and co-director of the Chicago Center for Contemporary Theory (3CT) at the University of Chicago. She is also Associate Faculty in Anthropology and co-editor of the University of Chicago Press series “Studies in Practices of Meaning.” She is the author of three books: Ambiguities of Domination: Politics, Rhetoric, and Symbols in Contemporary Syria (1999), Peripheral Visions: Publics, Power and Performance in Yemen (2008), and Authoritarian Apprehensions: Ideology, Judgment, and Mourning in Syria (2019).

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