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The unfallen statues of Hafez Al-Assad in Syria

Version 2 2024-06-13, 13:52
Version 1 2020-07-11, 02:54
journal contribution
posted on 2024-06-13, 13:52 authored by JA González Zarandona, NA Munawar
The destruction of statues representing political figures carries symbolic meanings that are negotiated by the people who attack the statue and the regime that the statue represents. Across the Syrian territory, statues of Hafez Al-Assad symbolized the oppressive Ba’athist regime which shaped Syria's past and present for more than almost half a century. As a result, a cult of personality ensued. This paper analyses the destruction of Hafez Al-Assad statues as a case of iconoclasm, framed by how the Ba’athist regime used elements of the past to glorify the personality cult of Hafez Al-Assad (1971–2000) and later his son Bashar Al-Assad (2000-present), Syria's current president. Drawing on the work of political scientists, the paper will establish how this cult of personality operated, to understand how Syrians living under an authoritarian regime engaged with images of Hafez Al-Assad and on which terms. Furthermore, by considering the re-erection of statues representing Hafez Al-Assad the paper will also discuss unfallism to better describe the process of destruction and re-erection of statues in Syria. The underlying argument of this paper is that the destruction and re-erection of statues in Syria are acts that question the purpose of destroying a statue today, amidst the current climate of removal of statues in different parts of the world as a response to dismantling systems of oppression.

History

Journal

City: analysis of urban change, theory,action

Volume

24

Season

Special Feature: Urban Fallism

Pagination

642-655

Location

Abingdon, Eng.

ISSN

1360-4813

eISSN

1470-3629

Language

eng

Publication classification

C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

Issue

3-4

Publisher

Taylor & Francis