Author Archives: ssnouri

Reading Notes for “the turban is not a hat”: queer diaspora and practices of profiling

About the Author:

  • Puar is a US based queer theorist and core faculty member in the department of Women’s and Gender Studies at Rutgers University
  • Has two works out “Queer Times, Queer Assemblages” (2005) and “Terrorist Assemblages: Homonationalism in Queer Times” (2007)
  • Her research interests are in critical ethnic studies, cultural studies, feminist globalization studies, immigration and diasporas, queer studies, sexualities studies
  • She is a 2013-14 Society for the Humanities Fellow at Cornell University, where she will be working on her third book, titled Inhumanist Occupation: Sex, Affect, and Palestine/Israel.

Working Definitions:

Queer Diaspora: “Emerges as a concept providing new methods of contesting traditional family and kinship structures-of reorganizing national and transnational communities based not on origin, filation, and genetics but on destination, affliction, and the assumption of a common set of social practices or political commitments

Brief Summary (or at least what I interpreted):

The turban and the attacks on the turbans present an interesting and complex problem of “mistaken identity” as well as what exactly that means.  With the 9/11 attacks, many were “mistakenly” attacked as terrorists, and to compensate for this mistaken identity many Sikhs would work hard to demonstrate that they were exceptional citizens the “heteronormative model minority ideals”, separate from the other perverse of the terrorist.  Puar relies on several other theorists to build up her argument and make several points. She employs Axel as a way to discuss homeland as an affective process rather than a place, shifting from origin to affective to homeland to contagions, where these queer diasporic subjects are under duress to naturalize their exceptional US-ness or Americanness. The turban becomes several things under this duress to Americanize, it also becomes a signifier of the other masculinity.  Like the veil that marks the other type of femininity, the turban does this for masculinity. Then there is also the discussion of what it means to see, which leads to the discussion of how certain bodies are “marked” with fear. This then leads to the concept of stickiness which we briefly discussed last seminar. Feared bodies are both sticky and contagious. This then leads us to the question of how sticky bodies come to be, for this Puar calls upon Saldanha to argue that “bodies gradually become sticky and cluster into aggregates’ because of how ‘certain bodies stick to certain spaces” (p. 190). Towards the end of the chapter, Puar brings up on the advocacy groups who provided documents on how to navigate through airport security were providing a form of surveillance of the turban and the body it is attached to.

Detailed Summary: (disclaimer: while I may include a lot of points made, I found it hard to try to simplify the arguments)


  • “the turban is not a hat” became a slogan after 9/11 due to several assaults (turban clawing, unraveling, and grabbing incidents) where Sikhs were “mistaken” as Muslim terrorists
  • many took assimilative measures and self preservation tactics to further demonstrate American citizenry, by various methods including the display of heteronormative model minority ideals
  • efforts of damage control for the “mistaken” identity were taken by Sikh lobbyists and lawyers
  • documents were released to instruct Sikhs how to navigate airport security as well as “educate ignorant Americans” (this comes up later in the chapter)
  • the unraveling of the turban/hair signaled a humiliating and intimate submission, hinting at homosocial undertones
  • these efforts of self preservation were driven by a desire to inhabit proper Sikh American heteromasculinity, one of significant remove from the perverse sexualities ascribed to terrorist bodies (p. 167) but also that these efforts rely on the premise that the viewer (assumed to be white) would be willing to care for the differences between difference
  • yet with these political tactics is the acknowledgment of the perverse masculinities encrypted in Sikh bodies via the rescripting of masculinities via an enactment of anti-Muslin sentiment
  • Sikhs were working to remove themselves from the perverse queerness attached to Muslim terrorists as a way to assimilate into us heteronormative citizenship
  • Puar brings up that during this time following 9/11, she was working with SALGA and encountered an issue that other mainstream queer anti violence organizations were not addressing: the relationship between queer bashing and racist hate crimes
  • Queer South Asian communities, particularly those with visible traits of gender non normativity, working class, and working poor backgrounds, were targets of hate crimes
  • As part of working to provide materials/resources for queer South Asians, the material recognized that queer perversity of terrorist bodies was being both read from their bodies as well as endowed onto their bodies
  • The relationship between the brown queer subject who is hailed as a terrorist and the terrorist who is already pathologically queer surfaced as a complex activist issue that challenged the bounds of our work” (p 169)
  • Ironically, South Asians queer diasporic subjects were and continue to be under even grater duress to product themselves as exceptional American subjects, not necessarily as heteronormative but as homonormative, even as the queernesses of these very bodies are simultaneously used to pathologize populations configured as terrorist
  • Under this idea of being exceptional American subjects, they are to participate and reproduce narratives of US queer exceptionalism in contradiction to perverse and repressed sexualities of the East, reclaiming the perversities of the brown terrorist implicit in the queering of terrorist populations
  • Yet beyond the subjects are the turbans and the bodies they sit upon and its attachments to hyper masculinity “Its historical attachments to hyper masculinity, perverse heterosexuality, and warrior militancy rendered these turbaned bodies neither within the bounds of respectable queer subject hood nor worthy of a queer intervention that would stage a reclamation of sexual racial perversity, suggesting that it is a body almost too perverse to be read as queer” (p. 169)
  • The male turbaned body is problematic for they are read as patriarchal by queer diasporic logic because they challenge the limits of queer diasporic identity
  • The author notes that in both the queer diaspora and GSSA’s response to the hate crimes are the hopes that transferring correct information will make a difference, that the turban is worthy of queer intervention and that the misrecognition can be solved

Queer Diasporas:

  • Axel- “The Diasporic Imagery” is a study of Sikh diasporas, argues that “rather than conceiving of the homeland as something that creates diasporas it may be the more productive to consider the diaspora as something that creates the homeland” (p 170).  He is discussing the economic and symbolic importance of the non resident Indian
  • “The homeland…must be understood as an affective and temporal process rather than a place” (171)
  • The temporalizing and affective subjectivity involved in creating the homeland pulls processes and images of different bodies, historical formations of sexuality, gender, and violence
  • Axel’s formation goes beyond location, but to connectivity of forms of diasporic afflictive and cathartic entities which is especially critical for Sikhs whose homeland is a perpetual fantasy
  • The author states that while Axel is primarily interested in images of tortured Sikh male body, she argues that a focus on affect reveals “How actual bodies can be in multiple places and temporalities simultaneously…” (p 171)
  • She makes the point that homeland is formulated in multiple ways, not only as a demographic, but on contingent temporalities, and networks
  • Shifting focus to affect, the question changes from “What does this body mean?” to “What and who does this body affect? What does this body do?”
  • Leading to the concept of contagion, where the body is capable of infecting other bodies (infection, transmission)
  • The shift is from origin to affective to homeland to contagions. The shift…is that these queer diasporic subjects are under duress to naturalize their exceptional US-ness or Americanness, both through hetero normative mandates but through homo normativity
  • “South Asian queer diasporic communities in the US are disproportionately impacted by the production of terrorist corporealities, navigating the figures of the Muslim terrorist, the turbaned Sikh man so often mistaken for him, and the woman in hijab who must be rescued from them ( p173)
  • Puar’s aim is to “rethink turbaned terrorist bodies and terrorist populations in relation to and beyond the ocular (visual, that is, affective and affected entities that create fear but also feel the feat they create, an assemblage of contagions… “ (p 174)
  • “this rereading of turbaned bodies offers a critical counter narrative to queer subjects that regulate the terms of queerness “in this case, hinting at the foreclosure o a queer diasporic turbaned Sikh, male of female, a subject that is distinct from the queerness that have often been attributed to Sikh masculinities” and the pathological queerness endowed upon terrorist populations that Sikh communities seek to evade (p.174)
  • her reading thus elaborates the biopolitics of population that racializes and sexualities bodies not entirely through their visual and affective qualities but rather through the data they assemble
  • asks the questions of how the visual is influential in the profiling

Turbans Becoming Strange Attractors

  • turban marks terrorist masculinity, inhabiting space of monstrosity where it can never be civilized “the turban is not only imbued with the nationalist, religious, and cultural symbolism of the Other; it both reveals and hides the terrorist, a constant sliding between that which can be disciplining and that which must be outlawed” (175)
  • the Thind case is an example that “by invoking the everyday experience of race over the scientific an anthropological evidence presented…the decision to not consider South Asian as white Americans demonstrates that the bodies inhabit different tactile and affective economies
  • because of this, the pressure to naturalize the aspirant citizens is reflected in deturbaning
  • since 9/11 Sikhs have claimed that the attacks were because a mistaken identity
  • the deturbaning undertaken by massive numbers of Sikh men was one manifestation of the demanded domestication, where the removal functions as reorientation into masculine patriotic identity. These attacks increased since 9/11, yet it was noted that the actual turban itself was the main point of contention, where the turban was an embodiment of a metaphysical substance, the desired object of violence, much more than an appendage
  • these hate crimes are becoming normalized, an expression of a socially appropriate emotion (desire to counter terrorism) in a socially inappropriate way by the patriotic populous
  • Puar notes that the head coverings also serve as an almost identified of the different body.
  • Puar discussed how turbans and veils converge, for veils were a discussion of submission and a marker of an other femininity, turban are emerging as a signal of an “other masculinity” where the turbaned man is many masculine things but also a figure of failed masculinity in comparison to the white hegemonic masculinity
  • Puar then discusses how turbans relate to the victimology, where turbaned men exemplify an exceptional narrative of victimhood as well as wearing the turban as a form of religious and multicultural excellence, foregrounding the heterosexual mandates of national belonging, a circuitry implicating homo national subjects, model minority, heterosexuality, and perversely queered populations.  This circuit casts immigrant communities and communities of color as “more homophobic” solidifying them, ironically as simplistically heterosexual or hetero normative in an un cosmopolitan, regressive manner.  This then denies the possibility of queer color subjects
  • Puar discusses how Butler demonstrates that the visual field is not natural to race, but that “seeing’ is not an act of direct perception, but ‘the racial production of the visible, the working of racial constructs on what it means to ‘see’’’
  • That these visual differences mean nothing when the visual evidence is within the viewers understanding.
  • the completion of the circuit of white paranoia is whereby attackers initiate the projection of their own aggression an the subsequent regarding of that projection as an external threat (p 184)
  • Puar  wants to go further into why certain bodies are marked, with violence, turns to Ahmed’s exploration of hate and fear, where hate is economic and fear is because of anxiety of the impossibility of containment of the feared object. This then results is the pooling of suspicious bodies.
  • The concept of stickiness arises, where terrorist sticks to some bodies and fear slides between bodies “stickiness can draw into question almost anyone in this affective economic of fear: pools of bodies, populations…where what is being preempted is not the danger of the known subject but the danger of not knowing (p 185)
  • The fact that fear does not reside in a body, but could be materialized in any body within a particular profile range allows for the figured of the terrorist to retain its potential historical significance ambiguity while it also enables the fear to “stick” to bodies that could be terrorists (p 186)
  • The turban is thus a sticky signifier, operating as a fetish object of fear, and the ontological becoming of the turbaned Sikh is intricately tied not the temperoral logical of preempting his futurity, a deferred death… (p 187)
  • Puar says that visibility is inadequate inviting surveillance but also regimes of affect and tactility conduct vital information beyond the visual, the move from visibility to affect takes us from a frame of misrecognition to the notion of resemblance, from “looks like” to seems like (p 187)
  • The mistake itself is not a mistaken, but functions as an alibi… resemblance, indicating either that the Sikh is a fine replacement or substitution: both reflect the circulatory economy of fear proffered…feared bodies are contagious…the very campaigns by advocacy groups to educate ignorant Americans do not address affective economics that conflate resemblance in misrecognition and also the assumption that the difference among difference would matter
  • Fear is produced by signs, where Ahmed schema of stickiness to fear beings the questions of how stickiness came to be
  • Saldanha argues that ‘bodies gradually become sticky and cluster into aggregates’ because of how ‘certain bodies stick to certain spaces” 190

Turban Modernities

  • Karla says that the turban is just a cloth and that by Sikhs not recognizing this they are demonstrating an inability to be modern
  • The relationships between the body and the turban as extensions of one another
  • Puar discusses perception and then makes the argument that “what if perceiving and being perceived can no longer be separate processes, nor processes that act as extensions of each other? This would be on difference between appendage and assemblage: thinking of the turbaned man as a man with an appendage and thinking of the turbaned man as an assemblage that cuts through such easy delineations between body and thing, an assemblage that fuses but also scrambles into chaotic combinations, turban into body, cloths…destabilizing the presumed organicity of the body (p 193)
  • The turban is always a state of becoming, and eventually becoming a perverse fetish object, a point of fixation, an attractor of anxiety
  • It is this assemblage of visual, affect…and bodily disruption of organic-nonorganic divides that the not fully organic not fully nonorganic body which accounts for the queer figuration of the turban in the calculation of the hate crime (p 196)
  • Trapped by precisely these poles-tradition versus modernity-this placement enables a disavowal of turbaned sexualities by queer diasporic subjects seeking into to approximate cosmopolitan status, as well as queer diasporic subjects seeking to embrace the illegitimate and perverse sexualities ascribed to terrorist bodies (p 196)

Racial and Informational Profiles

  • Puar then discusses how the NYPD began profiling subjects, a “patrolling of affect changes the terms of what kind of person’ would be a terrorist or smuggler recognizing that the terror could look like anyone and do just like everyone else’s, but might sees something else”
  • The racial profiling and targeting of suspected terrorists in the US brings the ideas and organization of yesterdays racial oppression in line with new technologies and the contemporary eugenics movement.
  • Returning back to the beginning of the chapter and how advocacy groups would advise Sikhs on how to go through the airport security, they are demonstrating how to monitor the turban and the body to which it is attached. “the intimacy of the turban unwrapping and the intimacy of surveillance technology that x-rays the turban are bifurcated this: the first produces the violated subject of regulation, the penetration of the sacred private, similar to the queer liberal subject of Lawrence Garner, that hinges on a liberal fantasy of bodily integrity, a projection of wholeness (p 198)
  • In the economy of sight and being able to see the terrorst is not contingent upon surveying the entire body, but rather the securitization that aims t make something visible to ensure its capture relies on assemblage of the individual. Race and sex are reread not only though the regulatory queer subject, but through the regularizing of this re materialization of the body (p 200)

Fortunati Chapter 7 and 8 notes

Fortunati Background:

Leopoldina Fortunati is an Italian feminist, theorist, and author. Their includes include Mariarosa Dalla Costa, Antonio Negri, and Karl Marx. They currently teach Sociology of Communication and Sociology of Cultural Processes at the Faculty of Education of the University of Udine, Italy. They have extensive research experience in gender studies, cultural processes and communication.

Chapter 7 Notes: “On The Theory of Surplus Value: The Map of Exploitation Corrected and Re-drawn”

  • This chapter looks at the concept of necessary work, particularly critiquing Marx.
  • Marx considered the concept of necessary work as connected to wage and the value of labor-power, he utilized an equation for determining these values. The author deems this equation as ineffective for it undermines the value of necessary work, reproductive labor power.
  • To the author, Marx didn’t understand the entirety of the range of necessary work and thus the entire range of capitalist exploitation, nor did he define the relationship between necessary work and the reproduction of labor power.
  • Fortunati is analyzing the period of big industry aka the development of the capitalist system itself, where labor power became associated with single laborer rather than the entire working family. Marx argues that the coming of large-scale industry provoked a reversal in the previously existing relations between necessary labor, the wage and the value of labor power and labor power. Machinery changed family dynamics, reversing labor power from the single person to the family. It did so by throwing every member of the family into the labor market, spreading the value of the man’s labor power over his whole family (thereby deprecating it).
  • Machinery changed agency, i.e. the contract between the worker and the capitalist. Before the relationship between the aforementioned was an exchange of commodities, now children and young persons as being bought by the capitalist. The free agent now becomes a “slave dealer”, selling the labor power of his wife and children.
  • To Fortunati, Marx theory demonstrates a lack of clarity, especially in defining the context, conditions, and mechanisms of the reproduction of labor power as the working class. As a result the working family becomes a backdrop, where wage moves and where commodity labor power is “restored”, where necessary work is calculated only with respect to the male worker’s working day. The author says that we do need to take the family into account.
  • The second half of the 19th century, women, children, and men would emerge and erode the mechanisms of the reproduction of labor power, or rather the working class
  • The modern family is now a result of overturning the relation between use and exchange value. “The wage is no loner an expression of the power of coercion which ties capital to the working class, but has also become the expression of capitalist control and disciplining of non-directly waged work, above all of housework. It has become the means of covering up the exploitation of the female house worker” (p. 92).
  • With women entering the workforce, they now must be calculated into the value equation, be considered in the complex cycle of capital
  • Part of determining these new values, involves looking at the workday for both women and men, yet it is impossible to determine the workday for women because of surplus labor. “Given that the housework working day is made up of necessary labor time and surplus labor time, precisely how much does capital exploit female house work labor-power?” (p. 94).
    • It is decided that with the existence of specific production of surplus value, there is exploitation of the female housework and oppression. 
  • In summation, if “one wishes to calculate the rate of surplus value for the entire capitalist process, this would be represented by the average of the rates of surplus value in all sectors of production, including reproduction” (p.97).

Chapter 8 “Reproduction Work is Productive”

  • Marx’s view on prostitution and exclusion of it in class composition is “blind, manipulation, and violent” and politically manipulative. Yet, Marx personally was uncertain about the subject of prostitution.  He touched upon sexual division of labor, but never really dealt with in its entirety.
  • “The only conclusion one can draw from this is that Marx was inconsistent in his arguments about whether reproductive work was productive or not” (p.100).
  • The author asks the question: do housework and prostitution work posit themselves as what Marx would define as productive work?
  • The determined answer to that question is…yes…that reproduction work does posit itself as productive work, productive work which has its own specific determinants, and it posits itself as such insofar as it is a precondition and condition of the existence of productive work within the process of production.

Discussion Questions:

  • With the advent of current technologies and possible future technologies, how will the understanding of concepts such as labor power and surplus value be determined? Does cyber space have time and how is that measured in respect to the workday (in the sense that we are constantly expected to have internet access-people doing work on their blackberry)?
  • Since exploitation of women is pointed out, how can this be resolved in terms of the work day and surplus value?  Is there a solution? 

Cooper, Life As Surplus Chapter 3 Notes

Cooper, Life As Surplus Chapter 3

Preempting Emergence: The Biological Turn in the War on Terror

(Brief) Background about the Author:

-Dr. Melinda Cooper works at the University of Sydney

-Several of their articles revolve around biotechnology, capitalism, and the neoliberal era

-They are currently undertaking a fellowship with the Australian Research Counticl, in which they are investigating the transnational organization of contract clinical trials, interrogating the intertwined histories of biomedical experience, welfare and tort law in China and India

Background on the topic:

Outline and statistics of the events discussed in this chapter:

9/11 Attacks:

-Four coordinated terrorists attacks launched by al-Qaeda terrorist group

-In total: about 3,000 people died in the attacks, including 227 civilians and 19 hijackers aboard the planes.

Anthrax Attacks in 2001:

-For several weeks after 9/11, letters containing anthrax spores were mailed to several news media offices and two Demonstrate U.S. Senators

-5 people were killed, 17 were infected

Hurricane Katrina in 2005:

-Described at the deadliest and most destructive Atlantic tropical cyclone

-At least 1,833 people died in the hurricane and subsequent floods

-Nearly $81 billion in property damage

-Many people were displaced, with over one million people from the central Gulf coast being redistributed into other areas of the US

-FEMA provided housing assistance to more than 700,000 applicants, families, and individuals. Yet there were issues in attaining adequate housing

-Criticisms include mismanagement and lack of leadership in the relief efforts in response to the storm and its aftermath, the delayed response to the flooding of New Orleans, etc.

Notes for the Readings:

This chapter aims to respond to the following questions:

-How to interpret the “biological turn” in US defense policy

-How to respond to a security agenda that conflates public health, biomedicine, and war under the sign of the “emerging threat”

-To investigate how the interest in biological weapons is really about dominance, counter proliferation, and preemption, the replacement of mutual deterrence.

After the 9/11 attacks, the Bush administration:

-Was the first to implement national defense strategy against biological threats

-Established funding for biodefense research, “Project Bioshield”, where 5.6 billion in funds went towards stockpiling vaccines and drugs against bioterrorists

-At the same time, there was also the secret initiative to establish four research centers for testing biological weapons of defense

-Essentially, at this point in time, the distinction between bioterrorist threats and the resurgence of resistance to infectious diseases became blurred. For the US defense warfare and public health become indifferent


-After World War II, public health institutions declared humans as being victorious to the threat of germs

-In developed countries first, and then in developing countries

-achieved through quarantine, immunization, antibiotics, vaccines

-The United Nations in 1978 declared that we were going through an “epidemiological transition” where poor countries were entering an era where chronic diseases would become a greater issue than infectious disease…which turned out to be ironic with the new millennium as new infectious diseases and old diseases started to come back even stronger)

-In 2000, the World Health Organization made it known that infectious diseases were back and that the threat was worse than ever before

-With this there was a militarization of language surrounding germs in public health, where germs were the new threat and our sense of security was at risk

-the autoimmune diseases became a threat

-antibiotics were being overused, with resistance on the rise

-new pathogens were crossing borders (places and species wise)

-contagions were hitching a ride on the vectors of free trade

-The understanding of the bacteria and microbiology grew, as there was greater understanding of how bacteria could rapidly evolve, coevolve with us, develop resistance, cross species


-In the 1950s, Dubos (a microbiologist) coined the term “emergence” as a way of describing the temporality of the biological evolution

-Dubos said that infectious diseases could never be eliminated, let alone stabilized. There was no limit to the coevolution of resistance and counter proliferation, emergence, and counteremergence

-During this time (the 1950s) his thoughts were at odds with the general public health consensus, but three decades later his ideas became mainstream

-Dubos strongly argued that our attempts to cure infectious diseases and similar threats would be met with counter resistance of all kinds “nature will strike back”

-If humans are to prepare for the unexpected then we need to learn the counter to “unknowable, the virtual, and the emergent”

-The concept of “catastrophic risk” has more recently emerged as the “complex humanitarian disaster” (a state of social breakdown that defies the simple predictive strategies of the Cold War period)

-This can’t be insured against, it affects are irreparable, affect both life and its reproduction, the event is so destructive and creative it denies us the luxury of preparation

-If the catastrophic event does happen the results may be irreversible

-Ewald indentified the predicament of neoliberal politics of security, and how with a catastrophic event “we can only imagine, suspect, presume or fear a danger we can apprehend without being able to access”

-The principle of precaution may actually be less progressive than it might first appear, for it finds its political counterpart in neoliberal social policies that dismantle the buffers of the warfare state only to criminalize the slight acts of deviance

-It is the justification for aggressive counter proliferation, particularly in the US (i.e. its military preemption)

-“It is all of these aspects of the catastrophic event-economic, biospheric, and military -that come together in the new strategic discourse on bioterrorism” (p. 85)


-Under Nixon, the administration backed away from germ warfare because they felt it was unpredictable, uncontrollable, and that there was the possibility of the warfare backfiring

-There was the fear of an unbalance of powers and a greater concern to prevent the rise of nonsovereign enemies

-In 1972 the Biological and Toxins Weapons Convention (BTWC) took place banning the use and possession of biological weapons

-Three decades later however, biowarfare came back.

-i.e. The US’ defense policy, the US withdrew from the BTWC following the anthrax attacks, propelling itself towards “defense”, bioweapons research

-RMA (revolution military affairs) in the earlu 1990s had predicted a future type of warfare, with biowarfare as a viable military option

-The media and events surrounding Iraq, the anthrax attacks solidified this idea of biological agents as weapons of the future, but in reality there were rare occurrences to support this conviction

-The doctrine of mutual deterrence was replaced by the concept of counter proliferation, a first step toward preemptive warfare

-“The US National Security Strategy of Sept. 2002 outlined a radically new doctrine of war that specifically legitimates the use of preemptive action against a threat that is not so much imminent as emergent, a threat whose actual occurrence remains irreducibly speculative, impossible to locate or predict” ( p. 89)

-This transformation in being prepared for the unknown has no end point, it is indefinite

-This preemptiveness has moved into environmental and health concerns (global warming and infectious diseases)

-i.e. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency-concerned with infectious diseases

-environmental concerns and how that could affect US security


-Another aspect of the government’s shifting policy on infectious diseases also relate to a history of humanitarian intervention, “where the boundaries between the realms of war and civil life have become increasingly difficult to sustain” (p. 92)

-Government adopts methods of humanitarian intervention as way of responding to domestic “biological security” threats (ex. Natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina)

-Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) incorporated within the Department of Homeland Security under the Bush’s administration. By this is turned from an agency geared towards responding to civil emergency to responding to an antiterrorist organization

-Hurricane Katrina was both natural disaster but the definite result of years of government negligence, failure of urban infrastructure and sanitation

-FEMA’s rescue efforts were delayed

-The National Guard were protecting gentrified white neighborhoods

Survivors were declared as refuges

-“The war on terror is being pursed against Americas own racial and class minorities”

-The Bush administration prepared for plans against an emergence of infectious diseases (avian flu epidemic)

-“Bush has suggested that the Department of Defense should be authorized to forcibly isolate, evacuate, and quarantine the first line of infected people in any pandemic” (p. 95)


-In the mid 1990s the US productivity started taking off, biotechnology and information technology relaunched in the US economy into a golden era of indefinite growth

-Venture capitalism flooded into the digital and biotechnologies, these industries were being financed with the hope of future profits

-Venture capitalism was described as the economy of emergence

-The Human Genome Project (HUGO) and genomics in general was on the verge of revolutionizing health care and personalized medicine

-Yet in March 2000, the venture capitalism frenzy died down, stocks collapsed, and Bush came to power

-For a while venture capital continued to invest in life sciences, but when HUGO and other genomic sequences were published the fueled interest for the field died down

-In 2003, the US government came to the rescue with a massive plan to fund “biodefense” research for the following ten years

-The aftermath of Sept. 11 became a driving force behind US economic growth, leading to security services of all kinds

-“The Bush administration has achieved something the theorists of Clinton’s new intelligence agenda only ever dreamed of – the actual institutional conflation of security and public health research, military strategy, environmental politics, and the innovation economy” (p. 98)

Points to Discuss:

-Are concerns/responses about possible infectious diseases as the aftermath of events like Hurricane Katrina isolated the US?  Don’t other countries take efforts to address outbreaks after natural disasters as well?

-An example of preemptive efforts in relation to natural disasters and possible pubic health concerns is the immunization for tetanus in various countries.

-Are citizens benefited or harmed the “precaution” efforts? How so?

Jin Haritaworn, The Biopolitics of Mixing Ch 2 Where Are you From?

Background on the author:

-Jin Haritaworn is an assistant professor in Gender, Race and Environment at the Faculty of Environmental Studies at York University

-The chapter is from the book, which aims to debate the term “mixed”/”multiracial” and its connotations in society, particularly the European society.

-Jin is interested in transitional race, gender and sexuality studies as his book demonstrates.  He is also interested in urban and environmental justice, urban ecologies of race, class, gender, sexuality and disability

-Jin’s two bigger research projects to date have each tried to make sense of the concurrency of celebration and pathologization in narratives of sexual and racial Otherness, in everyday lives and encounters in landscapes that remain shaped by the longue durée of racism, colonialism and gender oppression.

-Jin has completed a study based on qualitative interviews with people of Thai/multiracial parentage in Britain and Germany which are explored in depth in his book and this particular chapter.

Main Points:

Haritaworn’s chapter focuses on the unspoken and implications of the question “Where are you from?” This question somehow embodies symbolic violence and marks the non-white individual as an object, the other for others to touch, reach into, and question. Multiracial people pose an issue to defining groups of people because they are essentially the “inbetween”

Jin asks what would happen if we tried to make sense of the “ambiguous phenotype” not as a pre-social property of particular bodies but as socially produced idea that is consisted in broader power relations. Mixed race ambiguity only reinforces colonial archive of classification, of marking the others as others and different.

He provides an example of a “where are you from” interview with Mike, a Thai-German. He over dissects the interview, making the argument that Mike was in a way being objectified when he would describe his background. For example, Jin points out how Mike’s description of himself did not make how he actually saw himself.  Also, by volunteering to explain that his mother was Thai and father was German, there is an indication that the nation-state becomes territorialized as the property of white people and place becomes race. Even other people who were interviewed had undertones of racism, because of the inconsistent labels they gave themselves.

He then discusses how other writers have conceptualized mutliracialized bodies and identities. Examples of other writers include Fanon, Sara Ahmed, and Butler.

Fanon argues that there is violence connotation in dissecting the genealogy of another. The encounter involves unequal relations of looking and naming, which let some to define others.

Sara Ahmed revisits Fanon and Butler’s concept of perfomativity, where race is produced and reproduced in the very encounters of where are you from. Race is performed and reaffirmed as meaningful.

Multiraciality appears to invite dissection and to produce in observers a need to know. This apparently is highly intrusive and unequal, entitling some to be a voyeur who looks at and define others bodies and belongings.

By multiracial individuals participating in racial discussions of describing where they are from they are creating a social reality, getting race done onto them and also doing race.

For multiracial people public places are sites of surveillance, where people are forced into negotiations of race, gender and other ascribed differences. The where are you from can also be sexualizing, evaluating a subjects worth as a woman.

Being asked “where are you from” according to Jin embodies much more than a mere curiosity about a person, but a marking of them as different and as having an over eager need to dissect another person.

Points that I had issues with….

I found this reading difficult to agree with. I mean I understood some of the points he was trying to make, but I just felt like it was overanalyzing a simple thing.  I am biracial and do not free invaded when asked “where are you from”. I take pride in that I even evoke such curiosity. It seems like the people he interviewed were bothered by that question.

Also, Berliner is the wrong term.  It is a type of German pastry, not a way to describe someone from that area.

I also felt that the argument that asking people about their backgrounds was labeling them as the other and as non-white was iffy.  I mean, doesn’t that in itself assume that everyone thinks of differences and deviations from the concept of “white”? To me it is assuming that everyone thinks white is the normal.

Did anyone else feel that this chapter was trying very hard to make a bigger deal of the question than the question really imposes?

Also, I felt like he could have made stronger arguments for racialization and sexuality. I would have liked to see more in depth discussion about labeling ethnic women as exotic and what that would mean.


“…the White subject performs authoritative status over an Other who in the process is turned to the status of an ‘object you can look at, address, question or’” (p. 27)

“The entitlement to whiteness expressed in a slogan like ‘fractions are for math, not for people was absent from most interview accounts…in this, those who had white parentage often named only the non-white parentage (half Oriental). This reproduced whiteness as normative by categorizing ones deviance from its unalloyed purity” (p. 32)

“This is because multiracialized people are not mere receives of social messages or conformists or prescriptive racial categories. They are also active participants in shaping their identities and creating social reality”.



Shireen’s Reading Notes for Postscript on the Societies of Control

Postscript on the Societies of Control:

Context and A little Background Information:

The article was written in 1992, however, the concepts explored in this article stem from Foucault, the rise of capitalism, the Industrial Revolution in the nineteenth century, and the technological evolution.  Capitalism and the Industrial Revolution enabled economic growth as well as the creation of spaces with the purpose of creating goods with a workforce.  The workforce was created by two significant moves: first by urbanization (the movement of farms from the land to the cities of economic growth) and second by the import of cheaper labor.  During this time, as Foucault analyzed, was the creation of a society of discipline where there are institutions of discipline as well as forms of violence and manipulations of power that permeate oppressive agents, groups, and forms of government.

There is another form of society, which Deleuze calls a “society of control,” which leads to present day society, a new form of violence and manipulations of power, as well as capitalism’s new method of making profits.

Summary/Main Points:

 1. Historical

In this section of the article, Deleuze discusses how Foucault had located disciplinary societies and how they functioned in spaces of enclosures.  In disciplinary societies there was the constant movement through spaces/sites of confinements (enclosures), however these sites are on their way to ending.  This is evident in the constant need for reforms.  As disciplinary societies dwindle, we are shifting towards societies of control that will replace disciplinary societies.

2. Logic

In this section of Deleuze’s article, there are several concepts and ideas being explored. (I will attempt to tackle the keys I understood) He goes further into describing and comparing societies of control to disciplinary societies through discussing a factory versus the corporation.

In a disciplinary society, the factory functions in the expected capitalistic sense.  This being that there is the objective of achieving the highest possible in terms of production, which the lowest amount in terms of wages.  In contrary to a disciplinary society, a society of control functions differently. Corporations have replaced the factory, stimulates rivalry, promotes “salary according to merit”, and has a continuous control to replace the examination (replace the examination, in terms that there is no end to seek like that in disciplinary societies). While a factory is composed as a single body, the corporation is rather a spirit that is anonymous.

Deleuze makes the point that societies of discipline have been donated to developing countries where cheaper labor and manipulation of violence and power are easier to do. While societies of control now administrate and control the societies of discipline (developing countries).  He indicates that one form of being able to indentify a society of control versus a society of discipline is by the amount of money each has, the richer being the society of control.

Another point that he makes is that societies of control are part of the technological evolution. Where societies of discipline are primary forms of technology and machines, such as those levers and pulleys and more recently those that require energy. While societies of control have technology that are computers and face different intangible threats of piracy and introduction of viruses. To Deleuze, technology has enabled a new mutation of capitalism, where capitalism is “no longer involved in production, which it often relegates to the Third World…” but a capitalism of higher-order production. Capitalism in societies of control “no longer buys raw materials and no longer sells the finished products: it buys the finished products or assembles parts. What it wants to sell is services and what it wants to buy is stocks. This is no longer a capitalism for production but for the product, which is to say, for being sold or marketed. Thus it is essentially dispersive, and the factory has given way to the corporation”.

3. Program

In this section of the article, Deleuze makes the point that individuals should be aware of how the shift from disciplinary societies to societies of control is still a method of controlling individuals and of manipulation of power.

 Important and Interesting Quotes:

“These are the societies of control, which are in the process of replacing the disciplinary societies. ‘Control’ is the name Burroughs proposes as a term for the new monster, one that Foucault recognizes as our immediate future” (p. 4).

“This is obvious in the matter of salaries: the factory was a body that contained its internal forces at a level of equilibrium, the highest possible in terms of production, the lowest possible in terms of wages; but in a society of control, the corporation has replaced the factory, and the corporation is a spirit, a gas. Of course the factory was already familiar with the system of bonuses, but the corporation works more deeply to impose a modulation of each salary, in states of perpetual metastability that operate through challenges, contests, and highly comic group sessions” (p. 4).

“In the disciplinary societies one was always starting again (from school to the barracks, from the barracks to the factory), while in the societies of control one is never finished with anything-the corporation, the educational system, the armed services being metastable states coexisting in one and the same modulation, like a universal system of deformation” (p. 4).

“In the societies of control, on the other hand, what is important is no longer either a signature or a number, but a code: the code is a password, while on the other hand the disciplinary societies are regulated by watchwords (as much from the point of view of integration as from that of resistance). The numerical language of control is made of codes that mark access to information, or reject it” (p. 5).

“The disciplinary man was a discontinuous producer of energy, but the man of control is undulatory, in orbit, in a continuous network” (p. 6).

“The old societies of sovereignty made use of simple machines-levers, pulleys, clocks; but the recent disciplinary societies equipped themselves with machines involving energy, with the passive danger of entropy and the active danger of sabotage; the societies of control operate with machines of a third type, computers, whose passive danger is jamming and whose active one is piracy and the introduction of viruses” (p. 6).

“But, in the present situation, capitalism is no longer involved in production, which it often relegates to the Third World, even for the complex forms of textiles, metallurgy, or oil production. It’s a capitalism of higher-order production. It no longer buys raw materials and no longer sells the finished products: it buys the finished products or assembles parts. What it wants to sell is services and what it wants to buy is stocks. This is no longer a capitalism for production but for the product, which is to say, for being sold or marketed. Thus it is essentially dispersive, and the factory has given way to the corporation. The family, the school, the army, the factory are no longer the distinct analogical spaces that converge towards an owner-state or private power-but coded figures-deformable and transformable-of a single corporation that now has only stockholders.6” (p. 6).

“Corruption thereby gains a new power. Marketing has become the center or the ‘soul’ of the corporation. We are taught that corporations have a soul, which is the most terrifying news in the world. The operation of markets is now the instrument of social control and forms the impudent breed of our masters. Control is short-term and of rapid rates of turnover, but also continuous and without limit, while discipline was of long duration, infinite and discontinuous. Man is no longer man enclosed, but man in debt. It is true that capitalism has retained as a constant the extreme poverty of three quarters of humanity, too poor for debt, too numerous for confinement: control will not only have to deal with erosions of frontiers but with the explosions within shanty towns or ghettos” (p. 6/7).