Jasbir Puar

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Jasbir K. Puar is a US-based queer theorist, presently a core faculty member in the department of Women's & Gender Studies at Rutgers University.[1] Puar is author of Terrorist Assemblages: Homonationalism in Queer Times.

Academic career[edit]

Puar has an M.A. in Women's Studies from the University of York, and completed her Ph.D. in Ethnic Studies at University of California at Berkeley in 1999.[2]

Writings and views[edit]

"Queer Times, Queer Assemblages" (2005)[edit]

In this essay, published in 2005, Puar analyzes the War on Terror as an assemblage of racism, nationalism, patriotism, and terrorism, suggesting that it is "already profoundly queer." Her focus is on terrorist corporealities in opposition to "normative patriot bodies," and she argues that "discourses of counterterrorism are intrinsically gendered, raced, sexualized, and nationalized." Through an analysis of the American response to the Abu Ghraib torture and prisoner abuse in 2004, she contends that contemporary discourses of Muslim sexuality only mask and reproduce an underlying belief in American exceptionalism. She also rearticulates the body of the suicide bomber as "a queer assemblage that resists queerness-as-sexual-identity," a force with the power to converge, implode, and rearrange time, space, and body. Finally, Puar focuses on the archetypal Sikh terrorist, turban and all, in order to posit that her examination of queerness as an assemblage calls attention to "epistemology in tandem with ontology."[3]

Puar critiques the deployment of homonationalism in the United States as a justification for violently implementing the doctrine of American exceptionalism embodied in the War on Terror. The United States flaunts its supposedly liberal openness to homosexuality to secure its identity in contradistinction to sexual oppression in Muslim countries. This oppression serves as an excuse for the United States to “liberate” oppressed women and sexual deviants in these countries, simultaneously papering over sexual inequality in the United States. United States exceptionalism and homonationalism are mutually constitutive, blending discourses of American Manifest Destiny, racist foreign policy, and an urge to document the unknown (embodied in the terrorist) and conquer it through queering its identity, hence rendering it manageable and knowable.[4]

"Terrorist Assemblages: Homonationalism in Queer Times" (2007)[edit]

Puar's Terrorist Assemblages: Homonationalism in Queer Times, published in October 2007, describes connections between contemporary "gay rights" discourse, the integration of gay people into consumerism, the ascendance of "whiteness", and Western imperialism and the war on terrorism. Puar argues that traditional heteronormative ideologies now find accompaniment from "homonormative" ideologies replicating the same hierarchical ideals concerning maintenance of dominance in terms related to race, class, gender, and nation-state, a set of ideologies she deems "homonationalism".[5]

Writings by Puar have also appeared in The Guardian.[6] In a July 2010 column titled "Israel's gay propaganda war", Puar argues that Israel makes use of a public relations strategy described as "pinkwashing", equating Israel's internal policies toward gay people with modernity, progressive democracy, and tolerance, as an attempt to divert due attention from campaigns of aggression against Palestinians.[7]