TERRORISTASSEMBLAGESHOMONATIONALISM INQUEER TIMESJASBIR K PUARDeepti Bharthur
Overview of presentation Author Bio Focus of discussion Preface Introduction: homonationalism and politics Summary, overview of main arguments Critique Discussion prompts and questions
About the Author Associate Professor at Rutgers University Visiting Lecturer, Department of PerformanceStudies, NYU Visiting Fellow at the Institute for Cultural Inquiryin Berlin. Ph.D. in Ethnic Studies, University ofCalifornia, Berkeley Research interests:gender, sexuality, globalization; postcolonial anddiaspora studies; South Asian cultural studies;and theories of assemblage and affect.http://www.jasbirpuar.com/
Preface Reshaping of queer subject position in thecontext of the US led anti-terrorist rhetoric. Biopolitics- assimilation of queer nationalsubjects into a liberal discourse that severstheir historic ties with death and violence andincorporates them into normativity throughpolitical measures of recognition. ( gaymarriage, adoption, family) Parallel process of demarcation andracialization of ‘West Asian’ formations.
PrefaceTactics, Strategies, logistics- Explores the linkages between‘sexuality, race, gender, nation, class, andethnicity in relation to the tactics andstrategies, and logistics of war machines.’ ( p. xi)- ‘Queerness as a process of racialization’ andits subsequent cooption into the US imperialagenda.
Preface Methodology : ‘queer methodologicalphilosophy’ Sites of enquiry: governmental texts, mediatexts, LGBTIQdocuments, ethnographic, interview andparticipant-observation data. Analyses based on five yearsresearch, conducted in New York, New Jerseyand Connecticut.
Introduction: Homonationalism andBiopoliticsUse of three major frames to discuss theintersections of race, gender, sexuality, nationand religion towards the construction of terrorand terrorist bodies. Sexual Exceptionalism Regulatory queerness Ascendancy of whiteness
Sexual Exceptionalism Refers to a difference ‘from’ and ‘above’ The rewriting of homosexual citizens into thenational imaginary and their assimilation intoAmerican heteronormativity. Allows for use of human rights frames andclaims to moral superiority to constructdiscourses of sexual repression, violence vis-à-vis those of ‘choice’, ‘liberation’ andopenness.
Queer as regulatory Queerness as regulatory frame of biopolitics Creation of a Islam vs queerness, modernistvs archaic dichotomy. Expression of queer identity must perforce bewithin the liberal-secular frame and set itselfup against orientalist ‘backwardness’ thusresulting in the creation of disciplinedhomosexual subject. Sara Ahmed on the idealization ofmovement… ‘not free in the same way.’ (p.22)
Ascendancy of whiteness Building upon the work of Rey Chow andSusan Koshy. Refers to the ways in which biopower worksto regulate and control the proliferation ofmulticultural ethnic bodies in a way that doesnot challenge the epistemological project ofEuropean subjectivities. Sets the limits for the ‘ethnic’ within liberalmarket driven discourse to fit a color-blindnational imaginary.
Ascendancy of whiteness Market virility – By reorienting the loyalty ofmulticultural and homonormative subjects’loyalty to state through market privileges, thenation state manages its homophobic andxenophobic stance while maintaining itsclaims to inclusion.
CritiqueStrengths Gives a new perspective on the discourse ofqueer politics and activism and builds acompelling connection to discourses of raceand terror. Does an excellent job of situating queerpolitics and identity politics within largerstructures of state, market and geopolitics. Problematizes the dominant liberal frame ofunderstanding queer subject position.
CritiqueWeaknesses• Doesn’t probe into the role of militarization, USforeign policy and market concerns in pushingthe war against terror ( ex- first world need fornatural oil and petroleum reserves, the defenselobby)• Doesn’t really address the question ofsovereignty in its discussion of citizenship.
Discussion Questions Is it time to move away from the white-western liberal, normative frame of discoursewhich has yet to shed its imperialist trappingsand engage with questions of race, sexualityand gender from a new paradigm? If so, whatare the new sites and locations for alternativetheorizing and framing within which we cansituate feminist and queer politics?
Discussion Questions Puar discusses the role of the market inreconfiguring the subject position of the queerand the ethnic subject with regard to the state.How does this resonate with larger discourseson globalization and neoliberalism you mighthave encountered in the course of yourresearch/coursework which have pointed totrends of transnationalism, the dwindlingimportance of the state as an actor etc? Inother words, how has capitalism and the riseof market actors changed the dynamic ofidentity oriented activism?
Discussion Questions The war on terror has been constructed as abattle for a way ( the American way ) oflife, implicit within which are uncontestednotions of liberal democracy, freedom andindividual choice. Puar’s arguments lead ustowards observing similarities between thisand the discourse of multiculturalism, peaceand human rights originating from westernepicenters. Can we thus understand both asessentially tools of empire. Why/Why not?