Recently in Nation/Citizen Category

No really...

Check out this video in which the U of MN Social Justice Ed Classes & Dean Jean Quam are discussed on The O'Reilly Factor (with John Stossel).

Prepare to be angry... and maybe a little proud of the U.

"So if I'm a heteronormative..."

Hold on until that three minute mark, when O'Reilly reveals the top secret reason why America is the best country ever.

Maybe don't queer this... just enjoy.

Final Wrap-Up: Nation/Citizen

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1.
My term, nation/citizen, came to represent for me the over-arching concepts of nationality and citizenship and what these mean to queering. The concept of the nation has two implications for queer : the first is the very real and structured oppression of queer citizens through legal power; the second is the theoretical implications of a nationality or a citizenship that helps construct and is simultaneously constructed by heteronormative principles. These two different effects of the nation/citizen concept basically mark where I started understanding my term and where I ended with it.

Because I was more unclear on how to engage with my term at the beginning of the semester, and I wanted a clear and defined (I know, totally un-queer of me) place to begin, I focused on the legal implications of citizenship in the US. In my first annotated bibliography, the sources I cited showed how the citizenship in the US is seen as a privilege that one must earn through merit. Also the first source in my first annotated bibliography also shows the disturbing link between citizenship as natural and the other societal norms seen as natural. This link stems from the name of the process of becoming a citizen, naturalization.

Through more investigation and through our later readings, however, I can to see the term nation/citizen as representing a more ideology that we queered through our readings than as a concrete definition. For instance, in my last annotated bibliography, I found my favorite source of the semester, Gay Bombs. Gay Bombs, along with the readings we encountered later in the semester, showed that nationality and citizenship are defined by what they exclude as much as what they include. The masculinity intertwined with the US nationalist ideal makes queerness a threat comparable to terrorism. Thus nationality and citizenship become synonyms for masculine idealism and intelligibility.

2.
I see queering as looking at the world through the lens of queer. Queering is looking at things in our society and our world that seem to be the unchallenged status quo and turning it inside out. This is uncomfortable for many who are comfortable with the status quo. So necessarily queering makes many people uncomfortable, creates fear in them. Because queering does these things without apology, queering is a fearless action. Queering is appropriating the things that have been perverted into the norm and asking why and how that is. Queer is also looking at things that are already queer and naming that queerness in the subject, like with the queerness of children, . Also, with the queerness of terrorists in Puar's writing, I think it became even more clear to me that queering doesn't have boundaries, that is part of the fearlessness of queering as an action. Queering can be turned on a gender-defining book or advertisement and at the same time queering can be used to interpret the meaning behind suicide bombers. This agility to move to the murky spaces that exist outside of the comfortable reaches of mainstream society is its unique quality.


3.
Tracking my term has been a very new experience over the course of this semester. In some ways, I really felt lost at the beginning- I didn't know quite what I was supposed to be doing with this term or where to start. My thoughts surrounding the term nation/citizen were so jumbled and incomplete that it was hard to try and engage with the text using this term as my underlying association to the material, or lens through which to read, I suppose. It's entirely possible that this process of figuring out what to do with my term was more difficult for me because queer/queering has never been a focus of my studies. It is much less definitive, more imaginative, and more focused on questioning than my previous classes encouraged. With this new subject matter, tracking my term was rocky at first. . I think that it came more easily for me when I found a balance between trying to come up with definitive conclusions and coming up with only questions with absolutely no idea of how to approach them. At some point I found that balance, where asking questions about the readings and answering those questions became really helpful. Through this process, I think I learned a lot about how to go about queering and about investigating what queering means in relation to something like the term nation/citizen. It's important to me to be able to focus this queering ability towards something like citizenship, something that needs to be re-thought in terms of queer, and tracking my term definitely helped me learn to do that to a greater extent than I would've known how before.

The blogging process helped with tracking my term and understanding queer/queering in the first place for me also. I think the main reason blogging versus writing a formal paper helped is because the focus was taken off the specificity of meticulously writing a paper. For me, it's freeing to be able to write more stream-of-consciousness, using the first person, using language that somehow doesn't lend itself to formal writing. Without having to put focus on those smaller details, I was able to focus more on the subject matter that I was (attempting to) engaging with. Also, without opening the debate completely again, I do want to say that I think this blog also speaks to the way that queer/queering is situated in an academic setting- it is disciplined because it requires regular, scheduled work. But also, it is much less confining and constraining than a lot of work done in most academic careers because of the relaxed formality.


I started this direct engagement with Intimate Investments: Resituating the Homonormative Turn, but as I reread it before posting it, I think that I didn't fully understand what was happening with the gay, white male in contrast to the terrorist or other marginalized figure. After reading Jasbir Puar's article and understanding US exceptionalism a little more thoroughly, I can see that this exceptionalism as one of the issues intertwined with the figure of the gay, white male versus the terrorist. The US views itself as a progressive, enlightened nation and as the hallmark of that, the gay white man helps champion this "progressive" view of the US while really enforcing hetero norms at the same time. The hetero norms are enforced by the HRC ad in the article when the gay man has to justify his claim to marriage rights by positing himself as better than the terrorist figure (because he & his partner were fighting terrorism and his partner was a victim of 9/11). However, he is at the top rung of privileged society in every other way: white, male, wealthy. So he is really not such an icon of a progressive US, just a marker of what the US would like to use to claim its progressiveness. This is the constant and elusive problem for queer citizens; there are so many qualifiers that the nation is trying to pin down and use to choose ideal citizens. But where does the queer citizen fall in this system, especially considering that queer citizens often are marginalized, therefore living in the gray area and unintelligible spaces?

But after all that, here is the original post, I thought it was important at the time so I may as well post it now:

This article was really great, articulating perfectly the problem of campaigning for rights such as having gay marriage recognized and the problems inherent in ads like the HRC ad that it used as its example. I think that these problems are at the heart of the difficulty in looking at a nation/citizen term or trying to read from this perspective, because in relation to queer there are not a lot of positives to glean from its use. The positing that this sexually identified person should be included and recognized under the law is always in contrast to the other sexually identified person that will remain unrecognized and unrecognizable. In the article this is pointed out: "...this is a bargain brokered in exchange for closing his eyes to other kinds of violence committed daily on bodies of other queers, indigenous, black and other people of color," (126). This occurs because of competition of marginalized groups fighting for recognition, acceptance, visibility and equal rights. According to the article, "the white gay male competes with the imagined terrorist and with job-stealing immigrants for limited recognition," (126). I think this is a key point to the article, but it raises the question of a solution; what should/could be done to end this competition? Will it end as long as there are marginalized groups in society?

Annotated Bibliography 3

After reading the Puar assignments, discussing the implications that queer and terrorism have on each other, and trying to use the lens of nation/citizen to focus in on a particular theme, I found three great sources that tie together different elements of an understanding of queer terrorism and queer nationality. What it means to be a queer citizen might not be an answerable question, but the sources I chose reflect: 1. The unsettling trend of comparing queerness and terrorism in an effort to reveal queerness as the lesser of two evils; 2. The way that terrorism and queerness can be linked in a progressive and productive artwork and action; and 3. The way that queer nationality and queer citizenship is almost an oxymoron in that queerness can cause a citizen to be exiled, therefore stripped of their citizenship.

"Gay Bombs"
My first source is an awesome work of art/functioning website called Queer Technologies. The entire project is really cool and really interesting, but the part that really has a lot of relevancy to my term is the Gay Bombs portion. There is a picture of a book called "Gay Bombs: User's Manual" and the description of the manual itself is pretty neat: "Gay Bombs is a reverse discourse, a re-inscription, a mutating body politic, a multitude, a queer terrorist assemblage of networked activists, deploying new technologically queer sensibilities." So basically this is the how-to for the website. It explains how to understand and act with and through the theories of the website.

This to me seems like disidentification in action. I think it is really cool how the line between reality and art is blurred because it is hard to tell if you could just pick up one of these manuals and start deploying gay bombs whenever you wanted to, or if it is a complete construction for the purposes of art. Either way, I think it draws a great link between using disidentification and also the inherent queerness of terrorist tactics. Here is a book claiming (already queer) terrorist tactics for the purposes of queering society. The heteronormative cultural norms that make up western society are vehemently enforced through nationalism, the urge for blind, masculine patriotism in waging the war on terrorism and strict control over immigration. This book aims to queer that normative society and expropriate the term terrorism for those means. This action troubles the very notions of masculinity, heteronormativity and patriotism that are intertwined in the concept of US nationalism.

My MLA-style citation is below, but I added these two links that I found helpful for navigating the site.
http://www.queertechnologies.info/
http://users.design.ucla.edu/~zblas/thesis_website/abstract.html

Queer Technologies. Nov 2009. Queer Technologies. 5 Dec 2009. "http://www.queertechnologies.info/"


"Exiled for Love is Exiled from Love"
This source is a blog entry on the LGBT Immigration Rights page, which is a part of the bigger site, Change.org. This entry is not only heartbreaking; it is a big reminder of a huge issue for queer citizens- immigration rights. Taking into consideration all of the difficult processes, catch-22s, criteria and expectations involved in applying for and obtaining citizenship in the US, adding homosexuality and gender issues into the mix makes it almost impossible. Because heterosexual marriage is legal in the US, a man or woman can sponsor their heterosexual spouse for citizenship. However, since gay marriage isn't legal (not to mention how complex this issue becomes for trans people), a woman or man with a same sex partner cannot sponsor that partner for citizenship. This article basically exposes all these issues and also adds the personal story of the author.

I think the issues raised with this article speak to the question of how queerness and citizenship fit together. Is it possible for the two to fit together? Are full-fledged citizenship and heterosexuality mutually exclusive? Understanding queer theory a little more now, I wonder if citizenship is a productive goal to work towards when the citizenship connotes inclusion into a heteronormative society. This article shows the issues that a queer citizen faces; even though the author of this article was not denied citizenship, her partner was. Now they are both in exile from the US.


Lim, Amos. "Exiled for Love is Exiled from Love." Online Posting. 1 Dec 2009. LGBT Immigration Rights Blog on Change.org. 5 Dec 2009. "http://www.change.org/ideas/view/equal_immigration_rights_for_same_sex_binational_couples"


"Gays BETTER than Terrorists"
My final source is a video of Oklahoma Representative Sally Kern speaking at a meeting in her district. In the video, she calls homosexuality a "bigger threat to our nation than Islam or terrorism". She says a lot of other pretty radically prejudiced things. The video was put together by the HRC and plays the audio of Kern's speech while playing video of different people who are against Kern's statements.

This video, taken in relation to my other two sources, has a lot of things going on. First, the remarks made by Kern are in wild contrast to the work being done by the groups responsible for both of my other sources. She is obviously part of the system of power, for instance, that Queer Technologies works to dismantle. She is a representative of Oklahoma in the US government and is sent to speak for other people, although she is speaking for a racist and prejudiced minority. Another issue at work in with this video is the same issue we saw in the article that showed an ad by the HRC supporting gay marriage: the issue is that homosexuality is posited as better or worse than other marginalizing qualities and other threats to the US. The website (www.bigqueer.com) has a post following the video which states that "gays are WAY BETTER than terrorists". It's unfortunate that they chose to compare the two groups. Although we've talked a lot in class with the Puar reading that terrrism is intrinsically queer, this is a different assertion. The assertion is that terrorism and homosexuality/queerness are comparable threats to society. I don't think they are on the same plane in day-to-day life even though they may be in theory readings. So, this does the same thing as the HRC ad; it posits homosexuality as the lesser of two evils, as though its an either-terrorism-or-queerness situation.

"Gays Better Than Terrorists." Online posting. 13 Mar 2008. Big Queer Blog. 5 Dec 2009. "http://www.bigqueer.com/index.php?/archives/267-Gays-BETTER-Than-Terrorists.html"

Written by Chela Sandoval, Dissident Globalizations, Emancipatory Methods, Social Erotics explores the means, practices and goals of what she describes as dissident globalization. Introducing first the problematic aspects of nationalism, transnational capitalism and postmodern globalization, she offers dissident globalization as an option to counteract and resist these other forms of interacting on a national and international scale with other groups with similar goals. The primary quality dissident globalization would counteract is the ill effect of nationalism: "Nationalism thus exerts the true vanilla erotics: no transgressions permitted, border crossings monitored and militarized, and within these limits 'only our kind allowed,' a homogenization that disciplines the passions," (21). In response and contrast to this nationalism and its limitations on the erotics of its constituents, dissident globalization aims for change occurring in the social erotic. Also, a different understanding of citizen must take hold to carry out the actions a dissident globalization: "an internationalist citizen-warrior who is able to call upon the transformative capacities of consciousness and of the collective body," (21). This is a much different citizen than one inhabiting a nationalist perspective.
Explaining the history that led to the creation of this new global understanding, Sandoval describes the shift from a Marxist "proletariat" focused theory to what became "third world liberation" focused theory. Third world liberation was the term that "signified solidarity among new masses of peoples who were differentiated by nation, ethnicity, language, race, class, culture, sex, and gender demarcations but who were allied nevertheless by virtue of similar sociohistorical, racial, and colonial relations to dominant powers," (22). Basically this was a more global understanding of the principles of Marxism, and included colonization effects along with the understanding of social hierarchies and economic classes. Then, during the 1960s and 70s, feminists in the US incorporated this third world awareness into their politics and began the phrase "US third world feminism". In my opinion this term is problematic because of the tendency for feminist groups to use the momentum of another civil rights movement as a catalyst for its own means while simultaneously drawing support, attention, and means from the other movement. Also, the term is counterintuitive; the US is not considered a third world country and it seems very privileged for US feminists to assume a position of understanding and association with countries considered to be in the third world. However, Sandoval is less pessimistic and sees the name as a way of resisting national boundaries: "In a sense simply voicing this name enacted an untried revolution: a geopolitical upheaval of nation-state and its social imaginaries, and an innovative pulling together again of what leaders and visionaries of the movement hoped would become a trans-national, -gendered, -sexed, -cultured, -raced, and coalitional political site," (22). The group itself produced a lot of texts (also using the name "radical women of color" for themselves) that were aimed at "creating a social movement that would be capable of organizing on behalf of all people," (23). The US third world feminists worked to connect different people marginalized in different ways, less interested in bringing one specific group to the forefront and more interested in combining the powers of many different perspectives to counteract the social institutions within individual nations (especially the US) and change the understanding of trans-national politics. Between 1965 and 1990 it was decided by the US third world feminists and its associates that the changing and resisting and restructuring of the capital, nationalist culture had to be changed through use of a series of principles.
Different descriptions of what strategies and principles might be were offered, but they all centered on traveling between different discourses and theories to continually fight powers that oppressed and marginalized. The goal was to create a "new social-erotics- 'love' in the postmodern world" (24). Another way that I've understood the goals of the US third world feminists is through Jasbir Puar's Queer Times, Queer Assemblages. In the article, Puar discusses the replacement of the term "intersectionality" with "assemblage". I think that the reasons behind the switch in Puar's mind are the same as in the US third world feminists' collective minds. The term intersectionality in essences connotes a list of different groups to which a person belongs; assemblage describes more the experience of degrees, variations, fluidity, and times (temporalities) which a person actually experiences. In the same way, US third world feminists attempt to use the any experiences and attributes of any members as a catalyst for making connections within the group and on a larger scale; there is no attempt or description of being not quite in one group and not quite another that I associate with intersectionality, but rather of always belonging to a larger group. (US third world feminism is a very happy and positive concept.)
There are five different principles/strategies laid out by the US third world feminists and were chosen as ways through which social relations could be transformed. Using these principles, which could also be described as different modes that a person could employ, facilitated "movement through, over, and within any dominant system of resistance, identity, race, gender, sex, class or national meaning," (25). The revolutionary thinking of the US third world feminists came directly from this goal of traveling between and disrupting dominant powers for the purposes of creating a new globalization with less marginality. Deftly summarized by Sandoval, "This eccentric politics is a powerful paradigm for generating coalition between oppositional groups, for accessing horizontal comradeship, for carrying out effective collaborations between divided constituencies, for making interdisciplinary connections," (25).

Queer Time, Queer Assemblages

Although we have been given the option to deviate somewhat from our respective "terms" in the direct engagement category, I really would have no excuse to do so with the article Queer Times, Queer Assemblages by Jasbir Puar. This article closely relates to the idea of what a citizen or a nation is and what those terms represent, especially looking through our lens of US citizens in America. At the present moment, the buzzword is terror and the overwhelming sentiment encouraged by the media is that patriotism and citizenship means supporting a "war on terror". In this war on terror, the threat of terror and terrorist is constantly lurking. Puar helps clarify what the idea of a vague, racialized and sexualized terrorist does to the notion of what a US citizen is and what the US as a nation represents. In the first objective in the article, Puar "examine[s] discourses of queerness where problematic conceptualizations of queer corporealities, especially via Muslim sexualities, are reproduced in the service of discourses of US exceptionalisms," (121). US exceptionalism already has a head start because of the country's engagement in a war. Throughout the last century, any conflict into which the US inserted itself reinforced the idea that the US was the sole icon of Freedom in the world. The war on terror is different in that the idea of freedom not only refers to religious and economic freedom, but now sexual freedom as well. Although arguably these freedoms never have and still do not exist in the US, this strange pride of upholding these ideals while never truly experiencing them (or even really attempting to) is the very paradox that is US exceptionalism. Specifically in regard to sexual exceptionalism, Puar states that it is formed through "normative as well as nonnormative (queer) bodies," (122). Then, to help accentuate this exceptionalism is the contrast that is drawn between a "citizen of the US" and a "terrorist". So, here is the parallel. A "citizen" (i.e. hetero or homonormative, white, wealthy, law-abiding, taxpaying, patriotic, etc) is the normative body and the "terrorist" (i.e. deranged, not white, Islamic, Muslim, middle eastern, extremist, backward, etc) is the nonnormative. Even with the acceptance of one deviance from the heteronormative formula, a queer person would still have to fit within the framework of citizen: white, wealthy, male etc. This allowance of one deviation while still being recognized as a citizen is the way that the US can see itself as the tolerant, progressive, open-minded icon of freedom that it does. As Puar says, "queerness is proffered as a sexually exceptional form of American national sexuality through a rhetoric of sexual modernization that is simultaneously able to castigate the other as homophobic and perverse, and construct the imperialist center as 'tolerant' but sexually, racially, and gendered normal," (122). The US perspective of Islamic and Muslim cultures is that they are sexually conservative, private and modest. Puar takes issue when even Faisal Alam, the director of Al-Fatiha, encourages these ideas: "Islam places a high emphasis on modesty and sexual privacy. Iraq, much like the rest of the Arab world, places great importance on notions of masculinity," (124). Given the inflated view of American ideals held by "patriotic citizens", among these being tolerance and freedom, the values of the Arab world get perverted into a sense of backward prudishness and homophobia. This view of the Arab world then reinforces the exceptionalism of the US. Also, Puar points out why this view of the Arab world is false because "the production of 'homosexuality as taboo' is situated within the history of encounter with the Western gaze," (125). So, the US understands the Arab world to be homophobic because of the over-simplified understanding of Muslim and Islamic cultures, and also sees an irreconcilable distance between a Muslim identity and a homosexual or queer identity. Therefore, the homosexual or queer identity can find its place only within the US nation and within the white, US citizens as a group. The racialized terrorists are thus sexualized as heterosexual as a result of backward norms. As Puar concludes, "queer exceptionalism works to suture US nationalism through the perpetual fissuring of race from sexuality- the race of the (presumptively sexually repressed, perverse, or both) terrorist and the sexuality of the national (presumptively white, gender normative) queer: the two dare not converge," (126). Puar deftly articulates the problems that come into play when trying to conceptualize what a conceivable understanding of a US citizen might be in regard to queer and in this time of terrorist-obsessed fear. The paradox of sexual exceptionism is, like all problems that are cyclical and self-reinforcing, a trap that stops me from wanting to try and reconcile the term "citizen" with the term "queer".

Direct Engagement with Thaemlitz

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I have been thinking about air travel and the implications of the security systems in place in airports since I read "Trans-portation" by Terre Thaemlitz in Passing (173-185). Specifically I am thinking about the security checkpoints that everyone has to go through before being admitted into different terminals at the airport and subsequently admitted onto a plane. Now, these measures are in place to prevent "terrorists" from boarding a plane and then hijacking said plane, or blowing it up, or using it as a means for some destructive, anti-American, extremist goal. I see a lot of problems with the way that the US seems to view this "constant" terrorist threat, but for the purposes of my engagement here, I will just say that I do agree that keeping weapons and people carrying them off of planes is a pretty good idea. However, I think there is another reason that security is so strict in regard to air travel, and that is for the purpose of filtering people who are allowed/not allowed (wanted/not wanted) into and out of a country. So it's not necessarily just about the safety on board the plane itself, but there is also the customs aspect that serves as a filtration of desirable visitors and citizens. For a trans person, this plays out in the form of gender/sex intelligibility and matching up in the way that gender is displayed on the body with the "legal" gender on your passport or ID. There are a lot of issues within this:
First, the fact that in order to have a passport issued it is mandatory to choose a gender, along with race and other identifiers. Essentially, to be issued a document from the government confirming your legal citizenship status, it is necessary to ascribe to one gender. This says then, that to be a citizen belonging to any country, just exist as a legal resident somewhere, there must be the clarification of gender and then the display of that gender as well. This puts trans people outside of the realm of being able to claim/be granted citizenship as their true self. What does this say about nationality? Is having a nation to which you can belong appealing if this is the means to achieving that? What happens to those who refuse to assign themselves one or the other sex/gender, where do they fall?
The second issue I take with this international, airport security, customs issue is that this security measure of matching up a person to their ID is a "security" issue and yet at the same time it is a guise covering for interest into the unintelligible. The security measures ensure that there is nothing unknown about the people being let into a country, because only certain people are welcome in that country. Although we live in a time of complete globalization and diversity thanks to the internet, air travel and technology, there is still a fear of the unknown, the foreign. Clarifying the exact truth (or fruitlessly searching for an exact truth that may not exist) is the way to deal with that fear of the unknown. Security is set up for actual security and as a thinly veiled effort to control what sort of people are let into a country.
Another interesting part of this article is when Thaemlitz mentions that trans people or people in drag should be on the radar of security officials because of the possibility that they are terrorists who have cleverly found a disguise through gender altering. "In Oct 2003... the US Dept of Homeland Security issued an alert to law enforcement agencies, urging authorities to be on the lookout for al-Qaeda suicide bombers dressed in drag," (Passing, 174). This is a disturbing link between seeing someone in drag as foreign and a threat to the cultural norms of mainstream society and a terrorist, someone who is foreign and a threat to our physical well-being. This is a dangerous liaison between foreign (makes me uncomfortable) and foreign (makes me uncomfortable and so must be investigated, punished). What is the effect of this alert that warns to have a watchful eye on those in drag? What else does this say about our concept of acceptable citizen versus foreign threat?

What does this passage say about the national boundaries for transexuals and queer people versus hetero?
Queerness/Transsexuality as identifying travelers as possible terrorists= what does this mean?
What does the difficulty traveling say about nationality, gender and the need for visibility under the guise of security?

Reflection and Questions on Disidentification

In Disidentifications, Munoz asserts disidentification is challenging an institution by not identifying with it, and also not fruitlessly trying to reject it completely when it is inescapable, but by working against and on it to change that institution in a comprehensive way. If, as Munoz also asserts, "ideology is the imaginary relationship of individuals to their real conditions of existence. The location of ideology is always within an apparatus and its practice or practices, such as the state apparatus," (Munoz, 11) then I am curious to understand disidentification of the state apparatus. For instance, if there is an ideology within the state apparatus that is affecting peoples realities by prescribing or influencing an imaginary relationship with (or understanding of) that reality, then what are we to understand as the reality and what are we to understand as the imaginary?

Within this question there is the issue of intelligibility. The state apparatus (nation, country, the US, however you want to read it) uses systems of laws, naturalization, criminalization, education, taxation, etc to prescribe a set of codes onto citizens and non-citizens alike regarding the definition of both groups. Both groups also understand the implications of those terms. Citizen must find be able to fit in the classification of: gender, race, age, height, weight, etc in very specific terms. For a body outside of these terms, there is now a rift between the reality of the body and the ideology of the body. The ideology is not chosen, it is necessary for obtaining legal "rights" reserved for those members of the nation who are intelligible. For me, two very real examples of this are the Gender Recognition Act I cited in my second annotated bibliography, and also the debate surrounding face-veils and coverings in photo IDs and drivers' licenses, where some states still do not deem a person legitimate until they remove their veil and expose their physical characteristics for interpretation by the state.

If this system of identifiers of who is and is not eligible for inclusion into the legal benefits of the state apparatus is the ideology, and reality is the term for all aspects of a body that don't fit within these identifiers, then disidentification would be to understand the space between the two. What are the ways in which this space can be understood and what are ways that disidentification can tangibly change this system? Should the focus be instead to start conceptualizing the dissonance between the definable and indefinable in the body and use discourses as a starting point? Does it begin with trying to change the regulations regarding physical identification in gender, race, age, etc, terms? I also wonder then, if disidentification is realizing the all-encompassing nature of an institution, like a state apparatus, then does this refer to the fact that there is a state apparatus presiding over any physical place that a person can go, or rather, there is a nation claiming any given location on the planet? Or does this refer to the fact that, once given status (legal or illegal, citizen or non-citizen) i.e. put in a category into which a citizen must fit, then there is no undoing the mental effects of this ideological wiring?

Annotated Bibliography 2

This time for my annotated bibliography I focused less on the process of obtaining citizenship and the social ramifications of citizenship and more on the way that identity politics works through national systems to enforce hetero norms. Identity politics basically categorize different groups and, when faced with an individual, force that individual into one of the existing groups. This includes groups defining sexuality. Identity politics are produced by and produce the heterosexual norms that marginalize queer citizens, in essence disenfranchising them. My three sources here explore different ways this happens, through laws passed with the best intentions and through surveys designed to help solve this very problem.

Paper on Queer & Identity Politics

This is a paper describing a social experiment of surveying queer community members in hopes of reaching some understandings of political and demographic information on queer members of the community. The goal of this survey was to understand how to give queer and other marginalized citizens a voice in the political process that works to keep them marginalized. The survey was distributed to various large metro areas around the US, including the twin cities here in Minnesota. The paper also discusses the enormous amount of obstacles facing this task ; it was in some ways impossible to get outside of the white, male perspective which surrounds so many social systems, such as the mail system, the government, and the form of surveying itself.

I think the task described by this article- of trying to survey a queer population- is problematic, but also could be positive. It is problematic because of the identity politics invloved with categorizing a queer population. Who, how, why are the people defined as such ? As altruistic and well-meaning as the executors of the survey were in trying to approach the subject, the identification of someone as queer as a means of political categorization seems counter-intuitive considering the term queer. However, the goal of political representation for queer citizens as a means of ending or ameliorating marginalization is simply one way to acheive a goal that to me seems commendable.

Rollins, Joe. and Hirsch, Harry. "Queer Citizenship?" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Political Science Association, Boston Marriott Copley Place, Sheraton Boston & Hynes Convention Center, Boston, Massachusetts, Aug 28, 2002 Online <.PDF>. 2009-11-16


2004 Parliament Act in the UK

This is a copy of the Gender Recognition Act passed in the UK in 2004. This law basically outlines the legal path that a person in the UK can follow to change their gender. This person applies for and is then granted a gender recognition certificate, which changes the gender on their birth certificate and other legal documents. The act also outlines the evidence necessary before recieving a gender recognition certificate.

Like my first source, this act is wrought with issues and in dire need of queer analysis. First, the point of the act is clearly as a means of helping people gain the ability to choose their gender versus being ascribed a gender at birth with no way to go about changing it later in life. This can be helpful to someone who wishes to change gender, but remain within a system of binary male/female gender. Second, this act perhaps works more towards enforcing heterosexual dominance than helping those outside of heterosexual norms. Although there is a choice of which gender to be, every person is still forced to choose between these two genders. Third, evidence is needed as proof of a person's gender prior to recieving a gender recognition certificate. There are various rules delineating how much evidence is necessary given certain factors. However, the neccessity of evidence contributes to thoughts that there are certain indicators of how gender is decided. These are all social and cultural problems that are woven into this government act which legally affects the sexuality of citizens.

United Kingdom. Office of Public Sector Information. Gender Recognition Act 2004. 2004 Chapter 7.


Gender Outlaws Meet the Law

My third source is a paper outlining court decisions which have surrounded transsexuals involved in relationships later being accused of hiding their gender from their partner, impersonating a person of another gender or raping their partner. The article also highlights the conflict between the ways that different groups viewed these rulings; lesbian feminist groups and queer groups both saw the rulings as an infringement on rights in different ways. Queer groups saw this as a gender issue, a person's ability to choose gender, feminist groups saw it as a partner choice, a person's ability to choose their partner. Also the paper shows the ways that these rulings really control through legal ways how a person's sexuality can be expressed and that is typically only through heterosexual norms.

This article was really interesting to me in the sense that it contrasts these differences in the way that two groups fighting against the criminalization of sexual acts by marginalized groups can be fighting each other at the same time. The difference in the goals between feminist aims and queer aims is very large and yet, they are both just fighting a heteronormative society in different ways. These rulings are very disturbing and they are sometimes overturned later. However, this is a perfect example of how a transgender person does not have a voice or a safe place within the government system of a hetero based society. I think also that the feminist way of fighting this ruling, while resisting hetero norms, is still enforcing a belief in identity politics because it is defining gay versus straight, which is just as limited as straight.


Gross, Aeyal. "Gender Outlaws Meet the Law: Feminism and Queer Theory at the Borderlands" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the The Law and Society Association, TBA, Berlin, Germany, Jul 25, 2007. Accessed Nov 16, 2009.

Annotated Bibliography!

As I've been thinking of ways to engage with nationalism, citizenship, or relations between these categories through the lens of queer theory, I had a hard time clarifying which issues to engage with and how to do it. I thought the best way to start would be the actual government-issued material on the subject, so I started by reading through the Guide to Naturalization put out by the Dept. of Homeland Security. The ways it inscribes nationalism and patriotism into the process of naturalization are disturbing to me. So next I found this great article dealing with the ways that legal status can act as a purely functional tool for getting a passport, drivers license, etc and then the way legal status can act as a social mechanism, either positioning a person in an illegal, foreign space, or a legal, yet still foreign space, or the hetero-nromative ultimate goal of legal, not foreign space. "Foreign" here can be substituted with "abject" "stranger" "invisible" and many other choices, but I really want to explore the aspect of foreignness. And who is better to do that with than Kristeva? I know that Kristeva has a big presence in the abjection category, but the interview I used as my last source really deals with issues confronted through foreignness and individuality within a group, nation or collective. So this is my start to streamlining and exploring my term and am open to any and all comments.


A Guide To Naturalization
US Citizenship and Immigration Services, US Department of Homeland Security

This is the official source straight from the government, and it is scary! Basically, this book is just what it says it is: a guide to becoming the exact citizen that the Department of Homeland Security wants you to be. There are a lot of forms that a prospective citizen might need, there is an extensive question-and-answer section, and there are also the requirements of what it takes to be a citizen. In the introduction, there is also a really helpful list of benefits of becoming a US citizen, of which my favorite is patriotism.

This source I cited mainly because I think it is important to look at the actual literature the government sends out to any prospective citizens, and also to know the process that immigrants go through. The term "naturalization" really bothers me, and I am trying to clarify my thoughts about it for myself, but am still working on it. It really did help to sit down and go through this guidebook. Part of the reason I have such a problem with the term naturalization is that it is so close to the way that bodies, sex and gender have this hetero-normative discourse positing one specific body, sex, or gender as "natural". I think that the process of legal naturalization, or becoming an American citizen so thoroughly there is nothing distinguishing you from anyone else, therefore positing that there is one type of ideal citizen, is the same as how culturally there are expectations of one natural way to exist as well.

United States. Department of Homeland Security. A Guide to Naturalization. Washington: GPO, 2009.


The Functionality of Citizenship
Mark C. Fleming

This is an excellent paper that explores some of the issues (mostly political) surrounding citizenship and nationalism, and naturalization. The section that I found the most enlightening is the second section, about the duality of citizenship. It looks at the "functionality of citizenship" versus a "nationalism". Basically, the functionality of citizenship means the outright products of citizenship: right to vote, work, live, etc in a country. The nationalism aspect, however, is often required along with citizenship. The nationalism imprinted by the government on anyone who wants citizenship is what takes the process from simply attaining legal status to naturalization. Also, the article mentions in one area that Australia has abandoned the idea of trying to impart a nationalist, "naturalizing" mentality on people seeking citizenship. Fleming summed up the Australian governments thoughts that "being Australian carried no implications of homogeneity of language, culture, or religion."

This article was, for me, a great find. It was really interesting the way Fleming described the relation between a citizen and the nation in both a vertical and a horizontal manner. The vertical role of citizenship is the functional aspect; when getting a drivers license for instance, you need to go through official government workings. But the horizontal role, the affective role, of playing the part of patriot, nationalist, complete, visible, "naturalized" citizen is separate. The article argues for this separation as far as is possible.

The entire site that I got this source from seems like a really good way to go about finding really intelligent information about legal issues around the world. As I browsed through more of the articles, I was thinking that this would be a great site to learn more about the issue of citizenship and what it means in different countries.

Fleming, Mark C. The Functionality of Citizenship. Harvard Jean Monnet Working Paper no. 10/97. NYU. 6 Nov. 2009.


Cultural Strangeness and the Subject in Crisis
Interview of Julia Kristeva by Suzanne Clark and Kathleen Hulley

This is an interview with Julia Kristeva that mostly relates to her book Strangers to Ourselves. The interview starts with a discussion on the crisis of discourses that is a constant factor in this period of post-modernity. One of these crises is surrounding the discourse of foreigners/strangers. Kristeva talks about the issue of immigration in France and how the French are not yet ready to deal with foreigners or foreignness because of the phobia attached to the national identity. Kristeva also posits that this crisis can be good, because it opens up the possibility of analyzing and redefining the discourse. This same possibility exists within an individual, especially an individual that is an individual because they are marginalized for some reason. Also the American ideal of the autonomous individual and the positivist idea of woman is confronted by Kristeva, who again, thinks that this positivist notion of a person denies the possibility for marginalized individuality as a tool for analysis and change.

This article really works along with the Fleming article to show the ways that citizenship and individuality vs. collective identity work. Whereas Fleming contrasts the functionality of citizenship with the prescribed social role of the citizen, Kristeva analyzes the position of the individual citizen and their views on foreigners and the foreignness they see in themselves. Kristeva's points are really productive; she works to break through the notion that marginality is a bad thing in any discourse, and she acknowledges many discourses: sexuality, gender, medicine, citizenship. All of these discourses are in crisis right now and she is evaluating that crisis as a productive disorder because it serves as a starting point for the changes to be made in thought and practice, of how foreignness is viewed.

Guberman, Ross Mitchell, ed. Julia Kristeva Interviews. New York: Columbia University Press, 1996.

Understanding Power (and nation) through Foucault

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I've encountered Foucault before, mainly in cultural studies classes, and so I had a little understanding prior to reading the Method section of The History of Sexuality. This time, though, I read it through a first time which helped me recall all of that great Foucauldian knowledge I have stored somewhere in my brain, and then again (and again) in attempt to pull out some coherent thoughts on my term, Nation/Citizen. With this specific section, the hardest part for me is trying to find any specific area or term that Foucault's analysis of power relations doesn't apply to. As we read in Chapter 2, Part 4: Method, Foucault outlines how power relations and discourses on power are misunderstood. He lists 5 different points which introduce the reality of power relations as Foucault sees them. For example (I know I can't possibly cover the entirety of Foucault's analysis, so this is merely one example), the misconception that power follows a top-down format, wherein power is exerted from a ruler, or government/nation, onto its subjects or citizens in order to reach an end goal. Foucault posits that, instead, power is exercised by at every point and in any relation without regard to social, economic or political distinction. Power essentially is inherent in any relation and often the seemingly very powerful Nation, which is seemingly wholly responsible for the subjugation and oppression of its citizens, in actuality is no more responsible than any person who unknowingly exerts power at a local and personal level.
This different understanding of power relations in respect to oppression, prejudice, and subjugation of different groups of people is what I am interested in. I find that Foucault's theories of power really resonate with me (as clumsy as my explanation was, I feel I have a solid grasp on Foucault's theories) but diverging from his issue of tracing the discourses and medicalization of sexuality, I wonder what these different discourses on power relations could mean in regard to looking at a single individual (citizen perhaps) versus looking at a gigantic enterprise (nation). If, as Foucault tells us, power relations at a local level influence and affect the power relations on a national level, then how can we understand our role in these power relations? How can we use this knowledge to change more positively the effects of these power relations when we were mostly unaware of them to begin with? I also wonder, do we use our position within a nation, larger and "more powerful" than us individually, to negate our influential role in our daily power relations?