Syria's Democratic Years

Syria's Democratic Years : Citizens, Experts, and Media in the 1950s

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The years 1954-1958 in Syria are popularly known as "The Democratic Years," a brief period of civilian government before the consolidation of authoritarian rule. Kevin W. Martin provides a cultural history of the period and argues that the authoritarian outcome was anything but inevitable. Examining the flourishing broadcast and print media of the time, he focuses on three public figures, experts whose professions-law, the military, and medicine-projected modernity and modeled the new Arab citizen. This experiment with democracy, however abortive, offers a model of governance from Syria's historical experience that could serve as an alternative to more

Product details

  • Hardback | 234 pages
  • 152 x 229 x 22.86mm | 472g
  • Indiana University Press
  • Bloomington, IN, United States
  • English
  • 15 b&w illus.
  • 025301879X
  • 9780253018793

About Kevin W. Martin

Kevin W. Martin is Assistant Professor of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures and Adjunct Assistant Professor of History at Indiana more

Review quote

"[A]n extremely interesting story, deftly told and beautifully written... [M]akes an important contribution to our understanding of Syrian history." -Peter Sluglett, National University of Singapore "[A] book that will be both immediately valuable to scholars and teachers, and a significant contribution to historical scholarship on the cultural history of modern Syria... In light of the endlessly unfolding tragedy in Syria, this kind of careful historical scholarship is increasingly important, and likely to become unfortunately rare... [F]ill[s] one of many gaps in the historiography of modern and contemporary Syria." -Max Weiss, Princeton University "[A]n important contribution to understanding twentieth-century Syrian history, and particularly to understanding how and why post-Mandate Syria turned to authoritarianism rather than democracy... [O]ffers insights into developments in other post-Ottoman states, [with] lessons for the broader region as well." -Andrea Stanton, University of Denver "Syria's Democratic Years is a gem that deserves an audience beyond historians of 20th century Syria. The writing is lucid, at times elegant. The study of middlebrow media is enriched by interviews in Damascus, memoirs, archives, court records, and United States diplomatic records. Martin shows a deft touch for using cultural theory and comparative history to lend the book intellectual depth and relevance beyond the case at hand." -The Middle East Journal "Martin's work is a successful and nuanced account of the historical contingencies that contributed to the resilience of Syrian authoritarianism." -American Historical Reviewshow more

Table of contents

Introduction The Virtuous Citizen and the Postcolonial State1. Syria during the Democratic Years2. The Citizen and the Law3. Social Justice and the Patriarchal Citizen4. Punishing the Enemies of Arabism5. Making the Martial Citizen 6. The Magic of Modern Pharmaceuticals 7. Sex and the Conjugal Citizen Conclusion Citizens on the Tenth Dayshow more