Rebel-martyrs
in Rebel populism
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As the uprising turned ever more violent, death became an unavoidable presence in the lives of my informants. Men lost friends, kin, and comrades. Some died in battles with government forces, and Islamic State later murdered others. These tragedies produced deep longings for a return, with a dream of enacting vengeance. But men knew it was their work in Lebanon, and whatever remittances that work generated, that kept families back home afloat.

In this chapter, digital is once again central. Academics writing on the Arab Spring have elsewhere drawn attention to the importance of cheap consumer communication technology in democratising martyrdom image-making, and that this meant commemoration could fall away from the state into the hands of the people. Rebel Populism goes one step further by revealing how technology facilitated a time-space compression, allowing for men without skill in graphic design, and little free time, to deploy user-friendly image creation apps on their mobile phones. Through these techniques, workers were able to produce posters and videos that celebrated lost friends and kin, placing them within a pantheon of the people’s eternal and heroic rebel-martyrs.

Rebel populism

Revolution and loss among Syrian labourers in Beirut

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