Featured weekly article: The Syrian Uprising: Imagining and Performing the Nation

The Syrian Uprising: Imagining and Performing the Nation

By Salwa Ismail

Volume 11, Issue 3, pages 538-549


The uprisings that are sweeping through the Arab world have brought to the fore challenges that emerge in processes of political-community-making. Integral to these challenges are questions of political peoplehood, which interrogate the narratives and histories of the nation. In the Syrian case, these questions point to the constraints on collective action and feelings of trepidation towards the political changes that could occur once the existing regime falls. In this essay, I discuss the ‘fear of sectarianism’ as a factor shaping how the protest movement is constituted, as well as the modes of action pursued by participants and leaders of the Syrian uprising. This factor, I argue, has played an important role in crystallising a certain version of the political community while, at the same time, informing a re-imagining of the nation.

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