A New Old Damascus: Authenticity and Distinction in Urban by Christa Salamandra

By Christa Salamandra

"[F]illed with infrequent encounters with Syria’s oldest, such a lot elite households. Critics of anthropology’s style for exoticism and marginality will savour this learn of upper-class Damascus, an international that's urbane and cosmopolitan, but in lots of methods as distant because the settings within which the easiest ethnography has frequently been done.... [Written] with a nuanced appreciation of the cultural types in query and the way Damascenes themselves imagine, speak about, and create them." ―Andrew Shryock

In modern city Syria, debates concerning the illustration, upkeep, and recovery of the previous urban of Damascus became a part of prestige pageant and identification development one of the city’s elite. In subject matter eating places and nightclubs that play on photographs of Syrian culture, in tv courses, nostalgic literature, and visible paintings, and within the rhetoric of old protection teams, the belief of the previous urban has develop into a commodity for the intake of holiday makers and, most crucial, of latest and previous segments of the Syrian higher type. during this full of life ethnographic research, Christa Salamandra argues that during deploying and debating such representations, Syrians dispute the prior and criticize the present.

Indiana sequence in center East Studies―Mark Tessler, basic editor

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Extra info for A New Old Damascus: Authenticity and Distinction in Urban Syria (Indiana Series in Middle East Studies)

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The authenticity invoked in Old Damascus discourses is neither that of classic modernist, nor that of the ibn al-balad-like zgurt. It cannot be claimed by all who inhabit the city. ” Like the ibn nas, the Damascene ibn >aaa

Elegant modern settlements encircled North Africa’s old cities, signifying physical and metaphorical surrender to the colonial power (˘elik 1997: 37). In many cases, old cities were neglected, even “mummified,” in the guise of respect for local heritage (Hamadeh 1992: 251; J. Abu-Lughod 1980: 151). Timothy Mitchell argues that the desire to preserve the old city as an exotic relic reflects a logic peculiar to the modern West. Nineteenth-century Europeans enframed urban space, organizing it along the principles of an exhibition, as a site to be viewed.

An oasis once surrounded by lavish orchards, the city has long been renowned for its beauty throughout the Arab and Muslim worlds. As Islamic lore has it, the prophet Muhammad went as far as the city’s outskirts, looked out onto Damascus, and refused to enter, believing it unseemly to visit paradise before death. Damascus was also known for the quality and quantity of its water; the seven tributaries of the Barada River al- 28 A New Old Damascus lowed every house to have its own well. Damascenes describe the beauty of pre-Ba>thist Old Damascus in terms appropriate to the Arabian Nights—interiors of courtyards, fountains, mosaics, trees, and songbirds, extolled in loving detail.

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