Desirable Masculinity/Femininity and Nostalgia of the “Anti-Modern”: Bab el-Hara Television Series as a Site of Production
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The following essay analyzes the kinds of desires and commentaries on masculinity, social issues, and family ties that Bab el-Hara, a Syrian television series, evokes. It addresses the relationship between the national and popular media in the region, family relations and notions of femininity, and masculinity. Through content analysis and group discussion, the paper concludes that the series promotes a notion of antimodern masculinity. This anti-modern masculinity is coupled or promoted through nostalgic notions of ideal systems of justice, family, and masculinity/manhood that are in direct contrast to the failures of the nation/state to deliver in the pre-Arab Spring context. In other words, the paper argues that through evoking a sense of nostalgia for a “mythic” past, it links between a nationalist desirable masculine ‘antimodernity’ and particular desires around family relations, femininity, and women, which find broad appeal in the political context of the Arab world today, thus fostering commentary on the difficult current positions of women’s rights struggles in the contemporary gender politics of the region. I argue that the show’s promotion of an ‘anti-modern’ masculinity capable of delivering justice on the national front erodes the possibility of a gender justice future particularly in the context of the aftermath of the Arab Spring.
KeywordsMasculinity and femininity Family Nostalgia Popular culture Modernity Justice State Patriarchy Arab Spring
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