PUAR, Jasbir

Jasbir Puar (*1967) is a queer theorist who primarily works on the intersection of sexuality, race and geopolitics. In particular, Puar is known for proposing the concept of ‘homonationalism’, which illustrates how homosexuality – and in particular homonormativity, the adoption of heteronormative values by the ‘queer’ community – is instrumentalised as part of nationalist and geopolitical interventions. In her book ‘Terrorist Assemblages: Homonationalism in Queer Times’ (2007), she further demonstrates how both ‘pinkwashing’ (the outward adoption of LGBT friendliness to appear progressive and/or sell products/services/ideas to the queer community) and ‘gay shame’ (the shame associated with being LGBT+) are used as part of (counter)terrorism.

 

Puar’s work contributes to the wider discourse around biopolitics, and she has written about related subjects including disability, technology, interspecies relations and posthumanism. As she explains, her work takes on Foucault’s biopolitics and Mbembe’s necropolitics by showing how racialised queerness is closer to a ‘bio-necro collaboration’ (2008). The figure of the ‘queer’ in particular symbolises the rise of, or alternation between, a symbol of death (e.g. marginalisation, HIV) and a symbol of life (alternative forms of productivity). Her work also represents a critique of Judith Butler’s primary focus on gender and the human/inhuman binary (2008) by focusing on race and racialised religion. In this context, Puar plays with inversions of the role of the (queer, female, racialised) victim to issue a call for resistance to attempts at co-opting marginalised communities on the one hand, and to mainstream geopolitical narratives on the other.

 

Essential Reading
Puar, J K (2007) Terrorist Assemblages: Homonationalism in Queer Times. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.
Puar, J K (2017) The Right to Maim: Debility, Capacity, Disability. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

 

Further Reading
Puar, J K (2012) Homonationalism Gone Viral: Discipline, Control, and the Affective Politics of Sensation. The Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Bin Abdulaziz Alsaud Center for American Studies and Research (CASAR), The American University of Beirut.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6a0Dkn3SnWM
Puar, J K (2011) ‘I would rather be a cyborg than a goddess’: Intersectionality, Assemblage, and Affective Politics. european institute for progressive cultural policies (eipcp): http://eipcp.net/transversal/0811/puar/en
Puar, J K, Pitcher, B, Gunkel, H (2008) Q&A with Jasbir Puar. darkmatter journal.
http://www.darkmatter101.org/site/2008/05/02/qa-with-jasbir-puar/

 

Questions
Discuss the relation/differences between equality and normativity.
How does Jasbir Puar criticise privilege within the LGBT+ community?
Why does Puar believe that LGBT+ issues connect to issues of nationalism and warfare?
How does race play into LGBT+ issues at different scales (e.g. local queer communities, Pride representation, national, international scale), and why might it be more or less useful to talk about race rather than religion as an issue?
How does Puar’s work challenge/affirm other work on biopolitics, for instance by Michel Foucault, Achille Mbembe or Judith Butler?

 

Submitted by Angela Last

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