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Authoritarian ApprehensionsIdeology, Judgment, and Mourning in Syria$
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Lisa Wedeen

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780226650579

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226650746.001.0001

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Fear and Foreboding

Fear and Foreboding

(p.141) 5 Fear and Foreboding
Authoritarian Apprehensions

Lisa Wedeen

University of Chicago Press

By considering recent writings on sectarianism, chapter five investigates why sect, in particular, becomes a relevant category (when it does). In the Syrian case, this means explicating the extent to which sectarian fears about existential survival came to work in tension with fantasies of multisectarian accommodation. Centered on a pair of rumors that both stimulated and exploited a sense of vulnerability justifying regime intervention, the chapter explores what Raymond Williams calls the “structures of feeling,” the affective residual and emergent socialities that operate implicitly beneath the radar, often organizing ordinary experiences of atmosphere and situation before they are recognized explicitly. This chapter offers an account of what happens when this form of “residual sociality,” to borrow again from Williams, percolates to the surface. Eschewing the now tired debates between primordialism and social constructivism, the chapter uses Williams to advance the understanding of how interpellation works to produce attachments beyond the economic—forms of fantasy investment that, in the case of Syria, illustrate the affective gnarl and conundrums for judgment that result when the (relatively) impersonal claims of national identification chafe against sectarian communalism’s ordinary intimacies.

Keywords:   sectarianism, existential survival, intervention, socialities, Raymond Williams, residual sociality, primordialism, constructivism, communalism, interpellation

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