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Puar - Intro (Terrorist Assemblages)

Puar - Intro (Terrorist Assemblages)

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Published by: 5jd33 on Mar 31, 2012
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11/14/2012

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sucuncoercverearrangementsratertanstuatetseorestuateasmasterly,correcting,orpres!riptive.Theguidingquestionforthisendeavorremains:Canwekeepouyensesopentoemergentandunknownformsofbelonging,connectivity-intimacy,theunintentionalandindeterminateslip-pagesandproductivitiesofdomination,tosignalafuturityofaffectivepolitics?
xxviii
preface"Peoplearenowcomingoutoftheclosetonthewordempire,"saidtheconservativecolumnistCharlesKrauthammer."Thefactisnocoun-tryhasbeenasdominantculturally,economically,technologicallyandmilitarilyinthehistoryoftheworldsincetheRomanEmpire."Themetaphorofcomingoutisstriking,partofabroadertrendofappropriatingthelanguageofprogressivemovementsintheserviceofempire.Howoutrageoustoapplythelanguageofgaypridetoamilitarypowerthatdemandsthatitssoldiersstayinthecloset.-Amy"ViolentBelongingsandtheQuestionofEmpireToday"
introduction:
BothKrauthammerandhiscritic,theAmericanstudiesscholarAmyKap-lan,highlighttheconfluenceofAmericansexualityand
politics.'
Thecom-ingoutmetaphor,whichKaplanlaterstatesisinvokedincessantlybyLl.S.neoconstoelaborateaburgeoningeasewiththenotionoftheUnitedStatesasanempire,isstrikingnotonlyforitsappropriativedissemination,butforwhattheappropriationindexes.Ontheonehand,theconvergencemarksaculturalmomentofnationalinclusionforhomosexuality,alludingtoapar-ticularkindofparallelpossibilityfortheliberatednationandtheliberatedqueer.ThissanctioningofthelinguafrancaofgayliberationhintsthattheliberationofAmericanempirefromitsclosets-anempirealreadyknownbutconcealed-willandshouldresultinpride,aproudAmericanempire.Inthisincisivepiece,KaplanastutelypointstothenecessaryelisionsofKraut-hammer'spronouncement,butunfortunatelyenactsanothereffacementofherown.Fromaglanceatthedemographics,onecoulddeducethatthosemostlikelytobeforcedintoclosetingbythe"Don'tAsk,Don'tTell"policy,giventheirdisproportionatepercentageofenlistmentintheU.S.military,aremenandwomenof
color.'
Thus,anyaffinitywithnonnormativesexualsubjectsthenationmightunconsciouslyintimateisvigilantlycircum-
 
scribedbya"militarypowerthatdemandsthatitssoldiersstayinthecloset."Thisprovisoisimplicitlyraciallyinflected,demarcatingtheleastwelcomeentrantsintothisnationalrevelationofpridetobequeerpeopleofcolor.Moreover,inthisreclamationofexceptionalism,bothKrautham-merandKaplanexecuteatroublingaffirmationoftheteleologicalinvest-mentsin"closeting"and"comingout"narrativesthathavelongbeencri-tiquedbypoststructuralisttheoristsfortheprivileged(white)gay,lesbian,andqueerliberalsubjectstheyinscribeandvalidate.Nationalrecognitionandinclusion,heresignaledastheannexationofhomosexualjargon,iscontingentuponthesegregationanddisqualificationofracialandsexualothersfromthenationalimaginary.Atworkinthisdynamicisaformofsexualexceptionalism-theemergenceofnationalhomosexuality,whatIterm"homonationalism''-thatcorrespondswiththecomingoutoftheexceptionalismofAmericanempire.Further,thisbrandofhomosexualityoperatesasaregulatoryscriptnotonlyofnorma-tivegayness,queerness,orhomosexuality,butalsooftheracialandna-tionalnormsthatreinforcethesesexualsubjects.ThereisacommitmenttotheglobaldominantascendancyofwhitenessthatisimplicatedinthepropagationoftheUnitedStatesasempireaswellasthealliancebetweenthispropagationandthisbrandofhomosexuality.Thefleetingsanctioningofanationalhomosexualsubjectispossible,notonlythroughtheprolifera-tionofsexual-racialsubjectswhoinvariablyfalloutofitsnarrowtermsofacceptability,asothershaveargued,butmoresignificantly,throughthesimultaneousengenderinganddisavowalof
populations
ofsexual-racialoth-erswhoneednotapply.InwhatfollowsIexplorethesethreeimbricatedmanifestations-sexualexceptionalism,queerasregulatory,andtheascendancyofwhiteness-andtheirrelationstotheproductionofterroristandcitizenbodies.Mygoalistopresentadexterousportrait,signalingattentivenesstohow,why,andwherethesethreadsbumpintoeachotherandwheretheyweavetogether,resistingamechanisticexplanatorydevicethatmaycoverallthebases.InthecaseofwhatIterm"U.S.sexualexceptionalism,"anarrativeclaimingthesuccessfulmanagementoflifeinregardtoa
people,
whatisnoteworthyisthatanexceptionalformofnationalheteronormativityisnowjoinedbyanexceptionalformofnationalhomonormativity,inotherwords,homona-tionalism.Collectively,theycontinueorextendtheprojectofU.S.national-ismandimperialexpansionendemictothewaronterror.Thetermsofdegeneracyhaveshiftedsuchthathomosexualityisnolongeraprioriex-cludedfromnationalistformations.Iunearththeformsofregulationim-
2
introduction
plicitinnotionsofqueersubjectsthataretranscendent,secular,orother-wiseexemplaryasresistant,andopenupthequestionofqueerre/produc-tionandregenerationanditscontributiontotheprojectoftheoptimiza-tionoflife.TheascendancyofwhitenessisadescriptionofbiopoliticsprofferedbyReyChow,wholinkstheviolenceofliberaldeploymentsofdiversityandmulticulturalismtothe"valorizationoflife"alibithatthenallowsforrampantexploitationoftheverysubjectsincludedindiscoursesofdiversityinthefirstinstance.Ielucidatehowthesethreeapproachestothestudyofsexuality,takentogether,suggestatrenchantrereadingofbiopoliticswithregardtoqueernessaswellastheintractabilityofqueer-nessfrombiopoliticalarrangementsoflifeanddeath.
U.S.SexualExceptionalism
Onemappingofthefoldingofhomosexualsintothereproductivevaloriza-tionofliving-technologiesoflife-includesthecontemporaryemergenceof"sexuallyexceptional"U.S.citizens,bothheterosexualandotherwise,aformationIterm"U.S.sexualexceptionalism."Exceptionalismparadox-icallysignalsdistinctionfrom(tobeunlike,dissimilar)aswellasexcellence(imminence,superiority),suggestingadeparturefromyetmasteryoflinearteleologiesofprogress.ExceptionrefersbothtoparticulardiscoursesthatrepetitivelyproducetheUnitedStatesasanexceptionalnation-stateandGiorgio
Agamberi's
theorizationofthesanctionedandnaturalizeddis-regardofthelimitsofstatejuridicalandpoliticalpowerthroughtimesofstatecrisis,a"stateofexception"thatisusedtojustifytheextrememea-suresofthe
state.'
Inthisproject,thisdoubleplayofexceptionspeakstoMuslimandSikh"terrorist"corporealitiesaswellastohomosexualpa-triots.The"sexualtorturescandal"atAbuGhraibisaninstructiveexampleoftheinterplaybetweenexceptionandexceptionalismwherebythede-ferreddeathofonepopulationrecedesasthesecuritizationandvaloriza-tionofthelifeofanotherpopulationtriumphsinitsshadow.Thisdoubledeploymentofexceptionandexceptionalismworkstoturnthenegativevalenceoftortureintothepositiveregisterofthevalorizationof(Ameri-can)life,thatis,tortureinthenameofthemaximizationandoptimizationoflife.AstheU.S.nation-stateproducesnarrativesofexceptionthroughthewaronterror,itmusttemporarilysuspenditsheteronormativeimaginedcom-munitytoconsolidatenationalsentimentandconsensusthroughtherecog-nitionandincorporationofsome,thoughnotallormost,homosexual
 
subjects.Thefantasyofthepermanenceofthissuspensioniswhatdrivestheproductionofexceptionalism,anarrativethatishistoricallyandpoliti-callyweddedtotheformationofthe
us.
nation-state.Thus,theexceptionandthe
exceptional
workintandem;thestateofexceptionhauntstheproliferationofexceptionalnationalsubjects,inasimilarveintotheDerri-deanhauntologyinwhichtheghosts,theabsentpresences,infuseontologywithadifference.
4
Throughthetransnationalproductionofterroristcorporealities,homo-sexualsubjectswhohavelimitedlegalrightswithinthe
u.s.
civilcontextgainsignificantrepresentationalcurrencywhensituatedwithintheglobalsceneofthewaronterror.Takingthepositionthatheterosexualityisanecessaryconstitutivefactorofnationalidentity,the"outlaw"statusofhomosexualsubjectsinrelationtothestatehasbeenalong-standingtheo-reticalinterestoffeminist,postcolonial,andqueertheorists.Thisoutlawstatusismediatedthroughtheriseduringthe1980sand1990Softhegaycon-sumer,pursuedbymarketerswhoclaimedthatchildlesshomosexualshadenormousdisposableincomes,aswellasthroughlegislativegainsincivilrights,suchasthewidelycelebrated2003overturningofsodomylawsren-deredinthe
LawrenceandGarnerv.Texas
decision.Byunderscoringcircuitsofhomosexualnationalism,Inotethatsomehomosexualsubjectsarecom-plicitwithheterosexualnationalistformationsratherthaninherentlyorautomaticallyexcludedfromoropposedtothem.Further,amoreperniciousinhabitationofhomosexualsexualexceptionalismoccursthroughstagingsof
us.
nationalismviaapraxisofsexualothering,onethatexceptionalizestheidentitiesof
us.
homosexualitiesvis-a-visOrientalistconstructionsof"Muslimsexuality."Thisdiscoursefunctionsthroughtransnationaldis-placementsthatsuturespacesofculturalcitizenshipintheUnitedStatesforhomosexualsubjectsastheyconcurrentlysecurenationalistinterestsglob-ally.Insomeinstancesthesenarrativesareexplicit,asintheaftermathofthereleaseoftheAbuGhraibphotos,wheretheclaimstoexceptionalismreso-natedonmanyplanesforUS.citizen-subjects:morally,sexually,culturally,"patriotically."ThisimbricationofAmericanexceptionalismisincreasinglymarkedthroughoraidedbycertainhomosexualbodies,whichistosay,throughhomonationalism.Whatisnascentisnotthenotionofexceptionalism,norofagenderexceptionalismthathasdominatedthehistoryofwesternfeministtheoret-icalproductionandactivism.Currentformsofexceptionalismworkorarefurtheredbyattachingthemselvesto,orbeingattachedby,nonheterosexual,homonormativesubjects.Exceptionalismisusednottomarkabreakwith
4introduction
historicaltrajectoriesoraclaimabouttheemergenceofsingularnewness.Rather,exceptionalismgesturestonarrativesofexcellence,excellentna-tionalism,aprocesswherebyanationalpopulationcomestobelieveinitsownsuperiorityanditsownsingularity-"stuck,"asSaraAhmedwouldsay,tovarious
subjects.'
DiscoursesofAmericanexceptionalismareembeddedinthehistoryofUS.nation-stateformation,fromearlyimmigrationnarra-tivestocoldwarideologiestotheriseoftheageofterrorism.Thesenarra-tivesaboutthecentralityofexceptionalismtotheformationoftheUnitedStatesimplythatindoctrinationalaexceptionalismispartofthedisciplin-ingoftheAmericancitizen(asitmaybetoanynationalistfoundation)."DebatesaboutAmericanexceptionalismhavetypicallymobilizedcriteriaasfarrangingasartisticexpression,aestheticproduction(literaryandcul-tural),socialandpoliticallife,immigrationhistory,liberaldemocracy,andindustrializationandpatternsofcapitalism,among
others.'
However,dis-cussionsofAmericanexceptionalismrarelytakeupissuesofgenderandsexuality.Whileforthepastfortyyearsscholarshavebeeninterrogatin~feministpractiees-an<fllieorizationsthatexplicitlyorimplicitlyfosterthe
~lioh
of
u.s.
naTIOnalisminitswake,agrowmgcohortisnow"-examiB-i~queerpra~~~~~_~orlzatIonSfo:_~~~:~_r:dencles.--Forms--~oHF.3:genaeraIl~(h~t~ro)sexualexceptionalismfrompurportedlyprogres-sivespaceshavesurfacedthroughfeministconstructionsof"other"women,especiallyviathecompositeofthe"thirdworldwoman.
"8
InderpalGrewal,forexample,arguesagainstthenaturalizationofhu-manrightsframesbyfeminists,notingthattheUnitedStatesroutinelypositionsitself"asthesiteforauthoritativecondemnation"ofhumanrightsabuseselsewhere,ignoringsuchabuseswithinitsborders.GrewalalludestotheAmericanexceptionalismthatisnowrequisitecommonsenseformanyfeminismswithinUS.publiccultures:"Moralsuperiorityhasbecomepartofemergentglobalfeminism,constructingAmericanwomenassaviorsandrescuersofthe'oppressedwomen.'
"9
TherecentembraceofthecaseofAfghaniandIraqiwomenandMuslimwomeningeneralbywesternfeministshasgeneratedmanyformsofUS.genderexceptionalism.GenderexceptionalismworksasamissionarydiscoursetorescueMuslimwomenfromtheiroppressivemalecounterparts.Italsoworkstosuggestthat,incontrasttowomenintheUnitedStates,Muslimwomenare,attheendoftheday,unsavable.Moreinsidiously,thesediscoursesofexceptional-ismalludetotheunsalvageablenatureofMuslimwomenevenbytheirownfeminists,positioningtheAmericanfeministasthefeministsubjectpar
:.....-----
-
excellence.'?
»>:----

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