Download A New Old Damascus: Authenticity And Distinction In Urban by Christa Salamandra PDF

By Christa Salamandra

"[F]illed with infrequent encounters with Syria's oldest, so much elite households. Critics of anthropology's style for exoticism and marginality will take pleasure in this learn of upper-class Damascus, an international that's urbane and cosmopolitan, but in many ways as distant because the settings during which the simplest ethnography has normally been done.... [Written] with a nuanced appreciation of the cultural varieties in query and the way Damascenes themselves imagine, discuss, and create them." -- Andrew ShryockIn modern city Syria, debates concerning the illustration, renovation, and recovery of the outdated urban of Damascus have turn into a part of prestige pageant and id development one of the city's elite. In subject eating places and nightclubs that play on photos of Syrian culture, in tv courses, nostalgic literature, and visible artwork, and within the rhetoric of ancient protection teams, the assumption of the outdated urban has develop into a commodity for the intake of visitors and, most crucial, of recent and previous segments of the Syrian top type. during this energetic ethnographic research, Christa Salamandra argues that during deploying and debating such representations, Syrians dispute the previous and criticize the present.Indiana sequence in center East stories -- Mark Tessler, basic editor

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Additional info for A New Old Damascus: Authenticity And Distinction In Urban Syria (Indiana Series in Middle East Studies)

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Anthropological discussions are apt to link the origins of authenticity to social transformations in early modern Europe. With the demise of the divinely ordained social hierarchies of the Middle Ages, we are told, social positions became social roles, as the feudal worldview gave way to notions of society in which individuals were no longer defined solely by social rank. These new social roles came to be distinguished from inner, essential, or “authentic” selves. Hence the modern concern with authenticity (Handler 1986: 2–3).

Traits which become the basis of group identification may have little or nothing to do with older traditions or affiliations, although pseudo-historical explanations may be invoked to camouflage their inventedness (Sollors 1989: xvi). The relationship of group identity to class structure is central to the Syrian context, where sectarian and regional affiliations are often alloyed with those of hierarchy. The distinction between horizontal and vertical solidarities is a common theme in social science literature.

What makes Damascus unique is the Syrian state’s ambivalence toward the Old City and its elite. Syria’s small tourist industry, which showcases a bounty of ancient ruins, provides little counterweight to the regime’s security concerns. Like the casbah of colonial Algiers, Old Damascus and its potential to shelter resistance movements is perceived by some to pose a threat to the current rulers. The Old City and the counterclaims to authority and legitimacy it represents prevent the regime from wholeheartedly embracing it as a jewel of national culture.

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