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Terrorist Assemblages: Homonationalism in Queer Times (Next Wave) (Next Wave: New Directions in Women's Studies) [Paperback]

Jasbir K. Puar

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Book Description

22 Jan 2008 Next Wave: New Directions in Women's Studies
In this path-breaking work, Jasbir K. Puar argues that configurations of sexuality, race, gender, nation, class, and ethnicity are realigning in relation to contemporary forces of securitization, counterterrorism, and nationalism. She examines how liberal politics serves to incorporate certain queer subjects into the fold of the nation-state, through developments including the legal recognition inherent in the overturning of anti-sodomy laws and the proliferation of more mainstream representation. These incorporations have shifted queers from their construction as figures of death (the AIDS epidemic) to subjects tied to ideas of life and productivity (gay marriage and reproductive kinship). Puar contends, however, that this tenuous inclusion of some queer subjects depends on the production of populations of Orientalized terrorist bodies. Heteronormative ideologies that the U.S. nation-state has long relied on are now accompanied by homonormative ideologies replicating narrow racial, class, gender, and national ideals. These "homonationalisms" are deployed to distinguish upright "properly hetero," and now "properly homo," U.S. patriots from perversely sexualized and racialized terrorist look-a-likes - especially Sikhs, Muslims, and Arabs - who are cordoned off for detention and deportation. Puar combines transnational feminist and queer theory, Foucauldian biopolitics, Deleuzian philosophy, and technoscience criticism, and draws from an extraordinary range of sources, including governmental texts, legal decisions, films, television, ethnographic data, queer media, and activist organizing materials and manifestos. Looking at various cultural events and phenomena, she highlights troublesome links between terrorism and sexuality: in feminist and queer responses to the Abu Ghraib photographs, in the triumphal responses to the Supreme Court's Lawrence decision repealing anti-sodomy laws, in the measures Sikh Americans and South Asian diasporic queers take to avoid being profiled as terrorists, and in what Puar argues is a growing Islamophobia within global queer organizing.

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"By articulating terrorism, patriotism, and U.S. exceptionalism not only to race but also to homophobia, heteronormativity, and queerness, Terrorist Assemblages offers a trenchant critique of contemporary bio- as well as geopolitics. As an author on a hotly debated topic, Jasbir K. Puar is as gracious about acknowledging other authors' contributions as she is unyielding in her interrogations of secular-liberalist epistemic conventions. This is a smart, admirably researched, and courageous book."--Rey Chow, author of Sentimental Fabulations, Contemporary Chinese Films: Attachment in the Age of Global Visibility "I could not stop reading this outraged, meticulous, passionate, and brilliantly-visioned book. Jasbir K. Puar's analysis of the neoliberal, imperial, sexual, and racist present reaches into the U.S. Academy and multiple transnational publics and is critical of them all, even when she has solidarity with them. It's been a long time since I read something so smart and so thorough in its storytelling."--Lauren Berlant, author of The Queen of America Goes to Washington City: Essays on Sex and Citizenship "In this powerful book, Jasbir K. Puar offers a stunning critique of 'homonational' politics. She rethinks intersections as assemblages, as networks of affect, intensity, and movement. The very rigor of her critique suggests an unflinching optimism about what is possible for queer politics."--Sara Ahmed, author of Queer Phenomenology: Orientations, Objects, Others

About the Author

Jasbir K. Puar is Associate Professor of Women's and Gender Studies at Rutgers University.

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Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
43 of 55 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A rare gift! 4 Dec 2007
By Amstuder - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Jasbir K. Puar offers an unusually inspired diagnosis of today's war machines and the politics of knowledge-making in an era of counter/terror. "Terrorist Assemblages: Homonationalism in Queer Times" is a smart and deeply disturbing account of recent realignments of race, gender, sexuality, nation, class and ethnicity in the context of contemporary forces of counterterrorism, nationalism and securitization. Wielding an expansive methodological and theoretical toolkit, Puar puts her sharp analytic to excellent use, offering timely criticisms on a vast range of key concepts within contemporary transnational cultural studies. With a lyrical prose that is at times hauntingly poetic, if mildly "Deleuze-ional," Puar remains consistently astute in her political and cultural commentaries. The text follows recent scholarly works that: critically reassess the epistemologies of secular-liberal imaginaries; extend the affective turn in post-structuralist theory; and strengthen the transnational turn in queer studies. For these and many other reasons, the book has garnered critical back-cover acclaim from the likes of Rey Chow, Lauren Berlant and Sara Ahmed. Entirely deserving of their praise, Terrorist Assemblages is sure to make waves in transnational feminism, South Asian and Arab American studies, queer studies, counter/terrorism and security studies, affect studies and postcolonial critique. In short, Puar's book is a rare gift for scholars invested in exposing and undermining the links between race, sexuality and counter/terrorism, and for its archival strength alone, it will stimulate our diverse fields for years to come.
3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Moved 24 Mar 2013
By Jake D. - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I feel lucky to have come across this text. With well researched efforts and powerful grace, Puar dismantles queer identity and its subsequent relationship to discrimination since 9/11 - bringing into constant perspective what the queer community has both achieved but also not yet largely realized. I won't be surprised if this becomes an essential queer - or for that matter foreign affair - text of the decade. Puar's explanations are like looking into a prism - making the text feel that much more ahead of its time.
2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best book ever!! Intersectionality/Biopolitics/Affect 17 Mar 2013
By F. Alao - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Puar’s objective is to reimagine an identity politics so that the exclusions of queer people and people of color can be explored alongside the violent exclusions created by war. Accordingly, she closes with an interpretation of suicide bombers as “body-weapons” who defy categoriza- tion. And although she acknowledges her conceptual turn from representational politics to affect and assemblage, her analysis of complicity is an incisive analysis of representation and discursive practice, and yet this approach falls away in the final chapters. Throughout the book, discussions of the velocities, movements, and complex emotional terrains evoked by affect seemed to move her attention away from a rich empirical account. Yet the first half of the book demonstrates how powerful this approach can be when performed with the criti- cal acumen Puar so clearly demonstrates. For example, she alludes to Weizman’s (2006) work that shows how the Israeli Defense Forces appropriated Deleuze and Guattari’s theories, yet refrains from interrogating the possible complicities between poststructuralist concep- tualizations of assemblage, rhizome, and affect as well as the rise of “network thinking” and “layered security” in security and military practice. Even though the unre- solved tension between the analytic approaches might leave some to prefer a more certain conclusion, Puar’s book is evidence of her desire to move somewhere with her analysis. It is her ability to traverse the theoretical terrains between theories of affect and nonrepresentation as well as discourse and identity that exemplifies how these seemingly opposed poststructuralisms do, in fact, enrich each other and make Terrorist Assemblages a critically important work.
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