Reading for next week (4/7)

For next week, we will be discussing nation traitors. In addition to the readings in our Web Vista folder (2 Puar, 1 Third, 2 parts--Munoz), you can access Valerie Solanas' Scum Manifesto here. Here are a few questions to think about:

  • What differences do you see between traitorous identities and disidentification?
  • What tensions/conflicts (if any) do you see between Puar's articulation of terrorist and radical feminists like Solanas' (via Third)?
  • How do these conflicts speak to some tensions between feminist and queer projects of troublemaking?


Can I add a question? I haven't finished all the readings yet, but I am having a lot, lot, lot of trouble with Puar's theoretical links between gay male sex, an AIDS deathwish, terrorism, and the terrorist body as queered. The whole AIDS-terrorism thing opens up a lot of doors that I don't think Puar really explores the consequences of. Can we talk about this a little bit in class - or could you (Sara) clarify what Puar is trying to get at by that comparison, and how it could be -less- problematic than it seems in my head? Thanks!!

Yeah, for sure. One would be the first paragraph on p. 96 of "Model Minorities," where AIDS is linked to "destructive self-annihilation" which Butler (cited) then multiplies to the case of a suicide bomber killing others: "''The male homosexual is figured time and time again as one whose desire is inherently punishable by death.' The suicide bomber, always already dying, is not only consumed with perverted desires of the deaths of oneself and of others but also zeroed in on as the exact target of technologies of death." Puar also references a similar argument in "Queer Assemblages" on the top of p. 127.

I find this problematic for a couple of reasons: one is that I think it's really dangerous to link gay people with terrorists, considering the potential for hate crimes and such - it seems like fueling a homophobic fire. Another reason is that I don't actually believe that the two groups are explicitly linked in most of the public consciousness: unless I'm mistaken, it doesn't seem that gay men have been attributed with the same kind of malicious intent as suicide bombers (I know, intentionality is a problem... but when we're talking about rhetorical framings, it seems like attributed intentionality becomes important). A third reason - which I may have just not grasped how Puar might respond to - is that it seems to me that this discourse of queering the terrorist (especially the Muslim terrorist) contributes to a failure to read into the reasons behind their acts of terrorism; by focusing on the way terrorists are framed in the USA, it seems like Puar is staying within a strangely USA-centric analytic project. Which could be OK (maybe?) but then is she missing the point?

I hope these thoughts made some amount of sense...

Thanks for bringing this up, Sophie. I had the same reaction. First, he seemed to be lauding terrorism as a way of resisting heteronormativity. I feel like I must be misreading this, because otherwise it's just really offensive. Also, I don't see the connection between queer politics and terrorist politics-- positioning the terrorist as a "queer assemblage" just seems totally inappropriate.

Also, he is really critical of the way Abu Graib was discussed, particularly the way commentators suggested that the humiliation of being made to look homosexual or participate in "homosexual" acts was worse than physical torture. Puar suggested this was a way of reinforcing problematic assumptions about the sexual repression of the Muslim world. But later, he suggests that attacks on the hair and the body in anti-Muslim hate crimes create a "double-emasculation" by exposing the body to the gaze of viewers (133). Isn't the beating and killing more threatening than the emasculation, according to his earlier statements?

He states that terrorist bodies are "bodies that must be reclaimed as queer" (134). Why? Threatening to the status quo, dangerous, does not equal queer in my book.

I didn't know where else to put this comment, but in the "Curiouser" text for next week, I think there's a page missing (it skips from page 33 to 36, after page 13/15 of the PDF)... or maybe the missing page is just footnotes, I can't quite tell whether the end on page 33 is THE end or just the end of a paragraph with more to come.

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