Revolutions Aesthetic: A Cultural History of Ba‘thist Syria

Joel Parker has published a book review in "Bustan: The Middle East Book Review" of Max Weiss's "Revolutions Aesthetic: A Cultural History of Ba'thist Syria".

"In his oddly entitled book, Max Weiss discusses trends in Syrian culture and ideology from 1970–2020. The book aims to present a nuanced picture of the cultural politics of Ba'thist Syria that aims to counter overly deterministic narratives that claim all Syrian artists were secretly opposed to the regime. Weiss implies that Ba'thist cultural projects, termed Asadist-Ba'thist "aesthetic ideology," were able to produce genuinely popular works that combined unique Syrian themes with imported artistic values. Weiss delivers considerable evidence to make his case, drawing mainly from literature and film with occasional references to art and music. The main shortcoming in the richly detailed book is its lack of engagement with political history, relegating the "Ba'thist" element to the distant background or ignoring it altogether."