Constructing the nation:gender bias and masculinity in Syrian nationalism

Aldoughli, Rahaf (2017) Constructing the nation:gender bias and masculinity in Syrian nationalism. PhD thesis, UNSPECIFIED.

[thumbnail of 2017rahafphd]
PDF (2017rahafphd)
2017rahafphd.pdf - Published Version
Restricted to Repository staff only until 30 June 2024.
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs.

Download (2MB)


This is a revisionist study of Syrian nationalism. At the heart of this intellectual enterprise is an examination of the inherent and ingrained masculinist bias. While teasing out this aspect, I enquire about the basis of this prejudice. The masculinist interpretation of nationalism and its dissemination across Syrian society is, I argue, a result of the ideological foundations that took place over half a century (from 1920 to 1970). I seek to explore the status of women through investigating the nexus between the constructions of masculinity and nationalism, grounded in the imaginative anticipation of the nation within its nationalist narrative. The research paradigm underlying this study includes elements from perspectives of historical and comparative approaches, and critique of ideology. By philosophically engaging with the works of three key Baˈathist ideologues, I demonstrate the nature and character of that skewed nationalism. Consequently, this thesis documents the systematic masculinisation of conceptions of nationhood by Syria’s three founding fathers: Sāṭiʿ al-Ḥuṣrī (1879–1968), Michel ʿAflaq (1910–89) and Zakī al-Arsūzī (1899–1968), 1 and how their ideologies impacted later national narratives in the political and cultural contexts. In critically analysing the philosophical origin of Syrian nationalism in the writings of these three Syrian thinkers, the thesis investigates how masculinism is constructed in its narrative, reinforcing boundaries that question national belonging and identity. The thesis uses the phases of Syrian cultural and political nationalism to see how masculinism was further constructed in the early state formation in both the constitutional and legal narratives. It also investigates how the perpetuation of a masculinist ethos, which defines national identity and belonging, was further reflected in the state-consolidation stage through conceptualising nationalist songs as political symbols that designate politics of gender exclusion and inclusion. In so doing, it highlights the role of early Baˈathist theoreticians in perpetuating an ideology based on idealising manhood, hegemony and hierarchy as the basis of national identity. This dominance of masculinised national belonging and membership is intimately linked with the normalisation of militarism that configures men as patriarchal figures and political leaders of both the family and state. More importantly, investigating the process of nation formation in its three stages (theoretical, political and cultural) intersects with the missing representation of women, and this thesis highlights the overlap between this process and the rite of passage to manhood, as the realisation of national consciousness becomes juxtaposed with men’s heroic achievements. Thus, this thesis is about investigating the construction and perpetuation of masculinism in Syrian nationalism.

Item Type:
Thesis (PhD)
ID Code:
Deposited By:
Deposited On:
19 Dec 2017 11:00
Last Modified:
20 Sep 2023 02:04