Lisa Wedeen - "Authoritarian Apprehensions"

Wednesday, January 22, 2020 - 6:00pm - 7:00pm
Event Presenter/Author: 
Lisa Wedeen

“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

Lisa Wedeen discusses Authoritarian Apprehension: Ideology, Judgment, and Mourning in Syria. She will be joined in conversation by  Ghenwa Hayek, Kaushik Sunder Rajan, and Michèle Lowrie. A Q&A and signing will follow the discussion.

Presented in partnership with The Chicago Center for Contemporary Theory (3CT)

At the Co-op

RSVP HERE (Please note that your RSVP is requested but not required.)

About the book: 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.

About the author: Lisa Wedeen is the Mary R. Morton Professor of Political Science and in the College, associate faculty in anthropology, and codirector of the Chicago Center for Contemporary Theory at the University of Chicago. She is the author of Ambiguities of Domination and Peripheral Visions, both published by the University of Chicago Press.

About Ghenwa Hayek: Ghenwa Hayek is Associate Professor of Modern Arabic Literature in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations. Her research is situated at the intersection of literary and cultural studies, critical geography and urban studies, history, and gender studies, with a particular focus on modern Lebanon.

About Kaushik Sunder Rajan: Kaushik Sunder Rajan is Professor of Anthropology and co-director of the Chicago Center for Contemporary Theory at the University of Chicago. He works on the global political economy of the life sciences and biomedicine, with a primary empirical focus on India. His most recent book, Pharmocracy: Value, Politics and Knowledge in Global Biomedicine (Duke, 2017), introduces the concept of pharmocracy to explain the structure and operation of the hegemony of the global pharmaceutical industry through case studies from contemporary India.

About Michèle Lowrie: Michèle Lowrie is Andrew W. Mellon Distinguished Service Professor of Classics and the College at the University of Chicago. Her research focuses on ideology and aesthetic media in Roman political thought and its reception. Her most recent monograph is Writing, Performance, and Authority in Augustan Rome (Oxford University Press, 2009). She is currently finishing books on civil war literature in Rome and France and the Roman origins of the concept of security.

Event Location: 
The Seminary Co-op Bookstore
5751 S Woodlawn Avenue
Chicago, IL 60637