puar, jasbir k. “introduction: homonationalism and biopolitics.” in terrorist assemblages: homonationalism in queer times. durham, nc: duke university press, 2007.

jasbir puar (ph.d. in ethnic studies) is an associate professor of women’s and gender studies at rutgers.  her interests include critical ethnic studies, cultural studies, feminist globalization studies, disability studies, immigration and diasporas, queer studies and sexuality studies.  terrorist assemblages is her first monograph and her second, affective politics: states of debility and capacity, will be released in 2014.  she is currently working on a third book (inhumanist occupation: sex, affect, and palestine/israel) while on fellowship at cornell university. 

  1. in the introduction to her first monograph, puar explores the interrelationship(s) between biopower and necropolitics evident in the production of a homonational subject that simultaneously engenders and disavows entire populations of “sexual-racial others who need not apply.”  she explores three manifestations of this project: sexual exceptionalism, queer as regulatory, and the ascendancy of whiteness.
  2. homonationalism: “an exceptional form of national homonormativity” (2)
  3. u.s. sexual exceptionalism
    1. exception and exceptionalism work in tandem -by marking for death a particular population so that the life of another population may be secured and valorized-  in order to produce the u.s. as simultaneously unique (a superior singularity) and universal (it is at once the paragon of appropriateness yet not beholden to its mandates).  
    2. u.s. exceptionalism feeds off of other exceptionalisms (and exceptional victimhood secures, rather than disputes, claims to exceptionalism).
    3. u.s. exceptionalism depends on a narrative of transcendence which places the u.s. as above empire (insofar as it is not subject to empire’s shortcomings yet empire is beyond the pale of its own morally upright behavior).
    4. homosexual sexual exceptionalism does not necessarily contradict its heterosexual counterpart but, rather, supports and conceals the classed, racial, and citizenship axes structuring the latter.
  4. queerness as a regulatory frame of biopolitics
    1. queer secularity, which demands a particular transgression of norms (through which queerness narrates its own sexual exceptionalism), marks queer religiosity as subjugated, sexually repressed (and repressive, rather than productive), and void of agency (reinscribing its own transgressiveness by comparison).  rendered a contradiction in terms, the proper gay/lesbian muslim subject is foreclosed, allowing only for the orientalist fantasy of perversely sexualized terrorist corporealities (always already queer and improperly so).
    2. queer operates as an alibi for complicity with other identity norms while concealing these violent complicities through its imagined inherent transgression. 
    3. the fantasy of queer secularity depends on and recirculates the conviction that “religious and racial communities are more homophobic than white mainstream communities are racist” (15), marking white secular queerness (a white secular queerness committed, if unwittingly, to the replication of neocoloniality) as fit for inclusion into a body politic imagined as multicultural, while simultaneously reinscribing the racialized other as too intolerant for inclusion.
    4. it is though an ideal queer subject imagined as free from norms that queerness becomes a regulatory mechanism contingent upon various regimes of mobility wedded to individualism and the rational, liberal humanist subject. 
    5. “[q]ueerness as transgression (which is one step ahead of resistance, which has now become a normative act) relies on a normative notion of deviance, always defined in relationship to normativity, often universalizing.  thus deviance, despite its claims to freedom and individuality, is ironically cohered to and by regulatory regimes of queerness – through, not despite, any claims to transgression.” (23)
  5. the ascendancy of whiteness
    1. drawing from rey chow’s notion of “the ascendancy of whiteness” (which “incorporates the multiplication of appropriate multicultural ethnic bodies” (25) through a management and domestication of difference (within and containing sameness) that obscures the primary beneficiaries of this project), puar explores the twin processes of multiculturalization and heterosexualization that extend the trappings of (white, straight) citizenship to the (straight) ethnic and the (white) queer (through an “affective be/longing that never fully rewards its captives yet nonetheless fosters longing and yearning of affects of nationalism” (32)). 
    2. this extension is interpellated through participation within global economic privilege that faction, fraction, and fractalize identity (which, in turn, allows for disidentification from disenfranchised populations and  consolidation with axes of privilege).
  6. queer necropolitics
    1. puar interrogates the tension between bio- and necropolitics (to the extent that “the latter makes its presence known at the limits and through the excess of the former [and] the former masks the multiplicity of its relationships to death and killing in order to be able to enable the proliferation of the latter ” (35)), contending that it is by exploring the collaboration between the two that the multiple spaces of the deflection of death can be attended to and that it is “within these interstices of life and death that we find the differences between queer subjects who are being folded back into life and the racialized queernesses that emerge through the naming of populations” (ibid.).

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