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  • Preface: Tactics, Strategies, Logistics ix

    Introduction: Homonationalism and Biopolitics 1

    1. The Sexuality of Terrorism 37

    2. Abu Ghraib and U.S. Sexual Exceptionalism 79

    3. Intimate Control, Infinite Detention: Rereading the Lawrence Case 114

    4. “The Turban Is Not a Hat”: Queer Diaspora and Practices of Profiling 166

    Conclusion: Queer Times, Terrorist Assemblages 203

    Acknowledgments 223

    Notes 229

    References 287

    Index 325
  • Co-Winner, 2007 Association of Asian American Studies Best Book in Cultural Studies

  • “Jasbir Puar’s Terrorist Assemblages: Homonationalism in Queer Times is a refreshing and much-needed addition to this recent queer scholarship. . . . Her argument is essential for critics looking for a way to better understand the linkages between sexuality and antiterrorism.” — Robert Diaz, Criticism

    Terrorist Assemblages is about the effects of a new form of ‘homonormativity’ that has emerged in liberal-capitalist societies . . . . [Puar] offer[s] an impressive, wide-ranging account of the effects and new dangers of this development. . . . [An] important, interesting work for those working at the intersection of queer, critical race and legal/political theory. . . .” — Robert Nichols, Law, Culture and the Humanities

    “[A] firmly written, careful but searing critique of the ways in which sexuality, gender, race, ethnicity, class and nation are being reconfigured in relation to counterterrorism, biopolitics and nationalism,” — Shamira A. Meghani, Year’s Work in Critical and Cultural Theory

    “[T]his powerful and compelling book draws attention to the under-theorised connections between queer sexualities, race and the heteronormative white nation that is constantly circumscribed and unsettled by the ambivalently sexualized and racialised terrorist body, whose form is framed as all the more threatening because it cannot be properly understood or pinned down.” — Alan Han, M/C Reviews

    “As scholars continue to assess US foreign policy since 9/11, Jasbir K. Puar’s Terrorist Assemblages will certainly become an important reference point. . . . Terrorist Assemblages will appeal to scholars who wish to push the limits of interdisciplinary thinking and writing. In both form and content, this book energetically experiments with different theoretical frameworks and disparate sources to produce fresh insights on a variety of issues. For these and many other reasons, Terrorist Assemblages is bound to become a mainstay in graduate courses across a range of disciplines, and will certainly be cited as a key text in scholarship that examines how discourses surrounding sexuality are mobilized in the service of war, nation-building, and imperialism.” — Sean McCarthy, E3W Review of Books

    “Few points of identification, cherished political practices, or progressive claims are left unimplicated in Puar's analysis of the war on terror. . . . Terrorist Assemblages exemplifies the most difficult and yet most important work that critical theory can offer its readers and practitioners: a thoroughgoing interrogation of the inequalities, oppressions and injustices that shape the present, which refuses to leave its authors' and readers' own investments outside its critiques.” — Elisabeth Anker, Theory and Event

    “From her nuanced reflections on the problematics of subject formation in the midst of untold geopolitical turmoil, to her innovative appropriation and deployment of much that has characterized the so-called ‘affective turn’ in contemporary (post-stucturalist) literary studies and social science research, Puar does indeed leave us with a great deal to work and think with –
    even if it isn’t always so easy to know precisely where and how to begin.” — Dawn Hoogeveen, Alan Grove, Andrew Shmuely, Sarah Panofsky, and Michelle Drenker, Gender, Place, and Culture

    “It is [Puar’s] 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.” — Lauren L. Martin, Annals of the Association of American Geographers

    “Jasbir Puar’s ambitious book offers a densely woven web of engagements with key debates in queer theory. . . . I found this a challenging read—personally, politically, and intellectually. . . . To the extent that Terrorist Assemblages forces readers to ask awkward questions of their own privilege, being a discomforting read may, ultimately, be one of the strengths of the book.” — Gavin Brown, Environment and Planning A

    “Puar provides compelling and convincing examples of the unwitting effects of homonormative discourse.” — Celia Jameson, Parallax

    “Puar’s work powerfully illustrates the dangers of queer appropriation of the ‘like race’ argument, exhibiting how racialization is also amplified by assumptions of religious identity. . . . Puar introduces new theoretical resources for thinking about queer religious practice.” — Erin Runions, GLQ

    “Recommended. Upper-division undergraduate, graduate, and research collections.” — E. R. Gill, Choice

    “The bold and creative readings in Terrorist Assemblages exhibit the potential of bringing gender and sexuality studies into close conversation. . . . Terrorist Assemblages take[s] us well beyond popular and academic narratives of oppression and resistance, West and non-West, and civilization and barbarism to do no less than rearticulate feminism and freedom.”
    — Natalie Oswin, Environment and Planning D

    “With Terrorist Assemblages: Homonationalism in Queer Times, Jasbir K. Puar makes a crucial contribution to ‘the affective turn’ in queer and technoscience scholarship.” — Alex Pittman, E-Misférica

    “With Terrorist Assemblages, Jasbir K. Puar brazenly offers scholars of gender and sexuality studies, transnational feminism, critical theory, cultural studies and indeed, performance studies, a serious book about incidentals. . . . Given the venue for this review –a journal on Women & Performance–I think it only appropriate that we succumb to this project’s velocity, that we explore Puar’s virtuousic, methodological interventions, while acknowledging the captivating intellectual performance at the heart of Terrorist Assemblages. . . . Puar importantly provides a salient and scathing political critique of nationalism in its hetero, homo, religious and racialized incarnations. . . .” — Karen Tongson, Women and Performance

    Terrorist Assemblages is brilliant, hyperkinetic, and perhaps, most of all, ferocious. It is ferocious in its analysis and critique not only of networks of control over and unrelenting superpanopticism of queer, racialized bodies but also of queer, feminist, and critical race theory and activism.” — Victor Roman Mendoza, Journal of Asian American Studies

    “[Terrorist Assemblages] makes an original and important contribution to feminist scholarship.” — Alyson M. Cole, Women’s Review of Books

    “A profound and challenging book that should be read widely and repeatedly, Puar’s latest work contains revelations about contemporary power that offer avenues for transforming academic knowledge and our own subjectivities.” — Liz Philipose, Signs

    “Jasbir Puar’s Terrorist Assemblages: Homonationalism in Queer Times is a powerful, energetic, and highly insightful read. The book absorbs a surprising amount of intellectual, political, and emotional labour. . . . [R]eaders can have that rare and golden experience of emerging from these pages transformed. Indeed, the demands that Puar places on her reader are substantial, but the rewards well worth it. Cutting, courageous, and prescient, Terrorist Assemblages is well worth the read.” — Deborah Cowen, Antipode

    Awards

  • Co-Winner, 2007 Association of Asian American Studies Best Book in Cultural Studies

  • Reviews

  • “Jasbir Puar’s Terrorist Assemblages: Homonationalism in Queer Times is a refreshing and much-needed addition to this recent queer scholarship. . . . Her argument is essential for critics looking for a way to better understand the linkages between sexuality and antiterrorism.” — Robert Diaz, Criticism

    Terrorist Assemblages is about the effects of a new form of ‘homonormativity’ that has emerged in liberal-capitalist societies . . . . [Puar] offer[s] an impressive, wide-ranging account of the effects and new dangers of this development. . . . [An] important, interesting work for those working at the intersection of queer, critical race and legal/political theory. . . .” — Robert Nichols, Law, Culture and the Humanities

    “[A] firmly written, careful but searing critique of the ways in which sexuality, gender, race, ethnicity, class and nation are being reconfigured in relation to counterterrorism, biopolitics and nationalism,” — Shamira A. Meghani, Year’s Work in Critical and Cultural Theory

    “[T]his powerful and compelling book draws attention to the under-theorised connections between queer sexualities, race and the heteronormative white nation that is constantly circumscribed and unsettled by the ambivalently sexualized and racialised terrorist body, whose form is framed as all the more threatening because it cannot be properly understood or pinned down.” — Alan Han, M/C Reviews

    “As scholars continue to assess US foreign policy since 9/11, Jasbir K. Puar’s Terrorist Assemblages will certainly become an important reference point. . . . Terrorist Assemblages will appeal to scholars who wish to push the limits of interdisciplinary thinking and writing. In both form and content, this book energetically experiments with different theoretical frameworks and disparate sources to produce fresh insights on a variety of issues. For these and many other reasons, Terrorist Assemblages is bound to become a mainstay in graduate courses across a range of disciplines, and will certainly be cited as a key text in scholarship that examines how discourses surrounding sexuality are mobilized in the service of war, nation-building, and imperialism.” — Sean McCarthy, E3W Review of Books

    “Few points of identification, cherished political practices, or progressive claims are left unimplicated in Puar's analysis of the war on terror. . . . Terrorist Assemblages exemplifies the most difficult and yet most important work that critical theory can offer its readers and practitioners: a thoroughgoing interrogation of the inequalities, oppressions and injustices that shape the present, which refuses to leave its authors' and readers' own investments outside its critiques.” — Elisabeth Anker, Theory and Event

    “From her nuanced reflections on the problematics of subject formation in the midst of untold geopolitical turmoil, to her innovative appropriation and deployment of much that has characterized the so-called ‘affective turn’ in contemporary (post-stucturalist) literary studies and social science research, Puar does indeed leave us with a great deal to work and think with –
    even if it isn’t always so easy to know precisely where and how to begin.” — Dawn Hoogeveen, Alan Grove, Andrew Shmuely, Sarah Panofsky, and Michelle Drenker, Gender, Place, and Culture

    “It is [Puar’s] 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.” — Lauren L. Martin, Annals of the Association of American Geographers

    “Jasbir Puar’s ambitious book offers a densely woven web of engagements with key debates in queer theory. . . . I found this a challenging read—personally, politically, and intellectually. . . . To the extent that Terrorist Assemblages forces readers to ask awkward questions of their own privilege, being a discomforting read may, ultimately, be one of the strengths of the book.” — Gavin Brown, Environment and Planning A

    “Puar provides compelling and convincing examples of the unwitting effects of homonormative discourse.” — Celia Jameson, Parallax

    “Puar’s work powerfully illustrates the dangers of queer appropriation of the ‘like race’ argument, exhibiting how racialization is also amplified by assumptions of religious identity. . . . Puar introduces new theoretical resources for thinking about queer religious practice.” — Erin Runions, GLQ

    “Recommended. Upper-division undergraduate, graduate, and research collections.” — E. R. Gill, Choice

    “The bold and creative readings in Terrorist Assemblages exhibit the potential of bringing gender and sexuality studies into close conversation. . . . Terrorist Assemblages take[s] us well beyond popular and academic narratives of oppression and resistance, West and non-West, and civilization and barbarism to do no less than rearticulate feminism and freedom.”
    — Natalie Oswin, Environment and Planning D

    “With Terrorist Assemblages: Homonationalism in Queer Times, Jasbir K. Puar makes a crucial contribution to ‘the affective turn’ in queer and technoscience scholarship.” — Alex Pittman, E-Misférica

    “With Terrorist Assemblages, Jasbir K. Puar brazenly offers scholars of gender and sexuality studies, transnational feminism, critical theory, cultural studies and indeed, performance studies, a serious book about incidentals. . . . Given the venue for this review –a journal on Women & Performance–I think it only appropriate that we succumb to this project’s velocity, that we explore Puar’s virtuousic, methodological interventions, while acknowledging the captivating intellectual performance at the heart of Terrorist Assemblages. . . . Puar importantly provides a salient and scathing political critique of nationalism in its hetero, homo, religious and racialized incarnations. . . .” — Karen Tongson, Women and Performance

    Terrorist Assemblages is brilliant, hyperkinetic, and perhaps, most of all, ferocious. It is ferocious in its analysis and critique not only of networks of control over and unrelenting superpanopticism of queer, racialized bodies but also of queer, feminist, and critical race theory and activism.” — Victor Roman Mendoza, Journal of Asian American Studies

    “[Terrorist Assemblages] makes an original and important contribution to feminist scholarship.” — Alyson M. Cole, Women’s Review of Books

    “A profound and challenging book that should be read widely and repeatedly, Puar’s latest work contains revelations about contemporary power that offer avenues for transforming academic knowledge and our own subjectivities.” — Liz Philipose, Signs

    “Jasbir Puar’s Terrorist Assemblages: Homonationalism in Queer Times is a powerful, energetic, and highly insightful read. The book absorbs a surprising amount of intellectual, political, and emotional labour. . . . [R]eaders can have that rare and golden experience of emerging from these pages transformed. Indeed, the demands that Puar places on her reader are substantial, but the rewards well worth it. Cutting, courageous, and prescient, Terrorist Assemblages is well worth the read.” — Deborah Cowen, Antipode

  • “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 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

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  • Description

    In this pathbreaking 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 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 many queers from their construction as figures of death (via 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 that replicate 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.

    About The Author(s)

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

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