Terrorist Assemblages

Homonationalism in Queer Times

Terrorist Assemblages

Next Wave: New Directions in Women's Studies

More about this series

Book Pages: 392 Illustrations: 29 illustrations Published: December 2017

Author: Jasbir K. Puar

Contributor: Tavia Nyong′o

Subjects
American Studies, Cultural Studies, Gender and Sexuality > Queer Theory

Tenth Anniversary Expanded Edition

Ten years on, Jasbir K. Puar’s pathbreaking Terrorist Assemblages remains one of the most influential queer theory texts and continues to reverberate across multiple political landscapes, activist projects, and scholarly pursuits. 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, shifting queers from their construction as figures of death to subjects tied to ideas of life and productivity. This tenuous inclusion of some queer subjects depends, however, 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 what Puar calls homonationalism—a fusing of homosexuality to U.S. pro-war, pro-imperialist agendas. 

As a concept and tool of biopolitical management, homonationalism is here to stay. Puar’s incisive analyses of feminist and queer responses to the Abu Ghraib photographs, the decriminalization of sodomy in the wake of the Patriot Act, and the profiling of Sikh Americans and South Asian diasporic queers are not instances of a particular historical moment; rather, they are reflective of the dynamics saturating power, sexuality, race, and politics today. 

This Tenth Anniversary Expanded Edition features a new foreword by Tavia Nyong’o and a postscript by Puar entitled “Homonationalism in Trump Times.” Nyong’o and Puar recontextualize the book in light of the current political moment while reposing its original questions to illuminate how Puar’s interventions are even more vital and necessary than ever.

Praise

“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

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 Román Mendoza, Journal of Asian American Studies

“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

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

“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

"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." — Lauren L. Martin, Annals of the American Association of Geographers

"Terrorist Assemblages is a challenging and urgent book that pushes studies of the sexual beyond their comfort zone. . . . The chapters offer a series of bold and creative readings that aim to rewrite emergent orthodoxies within both critical and not so critical discourses on the 'war on terror.' Where such discourses perpetuate separation and distance, Puar strikingly demonstrates connectivity and coincidence." — Natalie Oswin, Social & Cultural Geography

"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

"Terrorist Assemblages is a rich and textured read that lays bare the perniciousness of liberal politics while asking for the hard work it takes to build radical solidarity." — Rupal Oza, Social & Cultural Geography

". . . I think it only appropriate that we succumb to this project’s velocity, that we explore Puar’s virtuosic, 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

“Puar’s project brings what we might describe as a racial politics of tolerance to the production of queers. . . . In doing so, she challenges those of us engaged in human rights theory and advocacy for sexual minorities to a serious consideration of what it is that enables such advocacy to be effective in the first instance, and what the effectiveness of such campaigns means for the re-positioning of LGBT subjects in mainstream political economies. . . . Her examination of terrorist discourses foregrounds a dimension of Foucault’s characterization of contemporary power that has been largely ignored by theorists who take up this framework for speaking of power: namely, the instrumentality of death—that is, the extent to which the protection and management of some life/lives is contingent on letting others die.” — Margaret Denike, Feminist Legal Studies


"Since the publication of Puar’s book, the presence of Islamophobic and openly gay politicians like Pim Fortuyn and Geert Wilders—who had seemed exceptional in the early 2000s—has become rather the norm. . . . Puar’s book has been extremely important in the effort to make sense of these phenomena." — Sara R. Farris, Social Text

“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


“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


“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 Entanglements, or Transmedial Thinking about Capture


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Jasbir K. Puar is Professor of Women’s and Gender Studies at Rutgers University and the author of The Right to Maim, also published by Duke University Press.

Tavia Nyong’o is Professor of African American Studies, American Studies, and Theater Studies at Yale University and the author of The Amalgamation Waltz.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Foreword / Tavia Nyong'o  xi
Preface: Tactics, Strategies, Logistics  xvii
Introduction: Homonationalism and Biopolitics  1
1. The Sexuality of Terrorism  37
2. Abu Ghraib and U.S. Sexual Exceptionalism  79
3. Intimate Control, Infinite Direction: Rereading the Lawrence Case  114
4. "The Turban is Not a Hat": Queer Diaspora and the Practices for Profiling  166
Conclusion: Queer Times, Terrorist Assemblages  203
Postscript: Homonationalism in Trump Times  223
Acknowledgments  243
Notes  249
References  307
Index  342
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper: 978-0-8223-7150-2 / Cloth: 978-0-8223-7111-3
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