Political Science

Authoritarian Apprehensions:

Ideology, Judgment, and Mourning in Syria

University of Chicago Press, 2019 


In Authoritarian Apprehensions, political scientist Lisa Wedeen takes up the pressing question of how the Bashar al-Assad regime in Syria remained in power after the revolutionary events of the Arab uprisings in 2011 that seemed to heralded a new era of change. Drawing on her decades-long engagement with Syria, she tracks the first decade of al-Assad’s regime, which offered what she terms an “upbeat, modern, internet-savvy authoritarianism,” and how, post-2011, it transformed into a “civil war autocracy” focused on restoring tradition and stability at all costs. Wedeen’s work offers a complex analysis of Syrian politics that, as one reader notes, captures “both the grief and resilience of her ethnographic subjects and provides much-needed insight into “the seduction of authoritarian politics more generally.”


Read an interview with Lisa Wedeen about Authoritarian Apprehensions here.

"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 is the Mary R. Morton Professor of Political Science and the College and the Co-Director of the Chicago Center for Contemporary Theory at the University of Chicago. She is also Associate Faculty in Anthropology and the Co-Editor of the University of Chicago Book Series, “Studies in Practices of Meaning.” Her publications include Ambiguities of Domination: Politics, Rhetoric, and Symbols in Contemporary Syria (1999; with a new preface, 2015) and Peripheral Visions: Publics, Power and Performance in Yemen (2008).