Final Wrap-Up: Homonationalism


Homonationalism was originally theorized from the post-9/11 US context. Puar draws on Lisa Duggan's term, homonormativity. Homonormativity discusses the trend of gay politics towards fighting for inclusion and acceptance into heteronormative institutions like marriage and the military. Duggan also discusses the collusion of mainstream gay politics with consumption and assimilation. Puar applies this term to post 9/11 gay politics that began to articulate possibilities for US citizenship based on threats of non-American others like terrorists and Muslims generally. The calls for inclusion into the imagined US nation-state increasingly relies on the creation of (non)subjects. Muslims are portrayed as sexually deviant whereas white, productive, upper middle class can articulate calls to citizenship based on their comparative proximity to heteronormativity and nationalism. Homonationalism is described as the point of collusion of homosexuality and US patriotism that depends on the otherization of the terrorist. These points are elaborated in my Puar DE post. Puar also describes patriotism as performative that requires the repetition of symbols, like the flag. I think this idea of the performative has implications for resistance and queer theory. To push on the performance of homonationalism, I cited `Flagging' the Skin: Corporeal Nationalism and the Properties of Belonging by Emily Grabham in my second bibliography. Grabham looks at how nationalism is performed on bodies. She also looks at the WOT US context specifically with veterans with prosthetic limbs. These previously disabled bodies are allowed entry into white, ableist society based on the surgery and the visible nationalism it conveys. Grabham describes this as a body modification that allows whiteness and ableism to go unmarked and afford certain bodies with privilege. Veterans that are black with prosthetic limbs do not receive this mobility as well as white, disabled bodies that are not veterans. Grabham is specifically concerned with disabilities but it is still useful to discuss the ways in which patriotism can mark bodies. Finally, I want to discuss an article I used in my first annotated bibliography shortly after we read Andrea Smith, Settler Homonationalism: Theorizing Settler Colonialism within Queer Modernities by Scott Lauria Morgensen. I think this article is useful because it articulates the impacts of homonationalism and its origins. Morgensen describes homonationalism "as an effect of U.S. queer modernities forming amid the conquest of Native peoples and the settling of Native land" (2). It is useful to think about the ways in which articulating belonging in the US nation state legitimizes colonization and colludes with ongoing violence against Native populations. Similar to the present day Other of the Muslims that Puar articulates, the Natives have and are portrayed as sexually deviant. White gays and lesbians have been able to transcend their deviance while Natives continue to be defined by it. Homonationalism has implications for queering theory because it cautions against a certain way of organizing and offers a powerful caution against arguing for inclusion on the basis for excluding others.

The question, "What is queering?" brings me back to the mash-up posts. In my mash-up I thought about queer/ing as an intersectional approach to oppressions. Specifically, things that fall outside of the limited sphere of gay or GLBT issues should be queer issues like state violence and immigration policy. Not only does systemic violence and institutions like capitalism and racism intersect with violence committed against queer bodies, queer should attempt liberation beyond identity politics. Looking to Scott's mash-up, I'm also reminded about the ways queering can make visible certain problems or exclusions within spaces. This brings me to class discussions about the value of discomfort. Often queering makes privilege visible which can be an uncomfortable process. Queering can provide a space to rethink or restructure responses to privilege or the operation of norms throughout society. I'm also reminded of the value or perhaps disadvantage of the ambiguity of the term "queer." Is it politically viable to have a category that is broad and without a clear referent? I think it is. I think the strength of "queer" is its ability to change and apply to many struggles and bodies. Thinking back to discussions of Judith Butler and identity politics, queer does not constrain in the same ways "gay" does. Identity politics can often evoke an ideal rights-bearing figure while others get left behind. Queer can certainly fall into similar pitfalls but it offers hope in ways that GLBT does not. It also has the potential to deal with a wider range of issues beyond just sexuality. Going back to the earlier comments, struggles against racism and colonialism should be as integral to queer politics as trans healthcare rights. Thinking about the Cohen article we discussed briefly in class but was pertinent to many of our discussions, the welfare queen is a queer subject because of her non-normative position and deviance defined by the state. Queer political organizing should be constantly self-reflexive (Butler), find value in criticism, and address a wide range of violence that is often invisible.

I really enjoyed the process of tracking homonationalism. I found myself thinking about the term far beyond just the annotated bibliographies and with an abundance of sources that did not all make it into the blog. Homonationalism became somewhat of a frame for the way I approached the class and I found a lot of similarities between Puar's argument and the readings we did even if they didn't explicitly mention Puar. Tracking homonationalism pushed me to apply the term beyond its original usage as well as go outside of just using sources where it is explicitly referenced. I found that process useful because it allowed me to do some of my own theorizing about the possibilities of the theory. I also appreciate the welcoming of non-traditional sources. While I didn't use an abundance of them, I think it is useful to think about theory alongside current events or other non-academic texts (low theory perhaps?). While I was familiar with the term before the class, I had only read the intro to Puar's book that introduces homonationalism. The process of tracking the term pushed me beyond that original exposure to think about it in relation to other problems (like the colonization of Natives) and contexts beyond the US. I really struggled with how to apply homonationalism outside of the US context, both in personal research as well as for the class. My third annotated bibliography included international sources about Israel and Africa. I haven't come to a conclusion on the potential of the term to travel but I think it is useful to think through the connections beyond the US. Tracking the term offered a further line of research and theorization.
I also think the blog was really useful for me. I like the way class discussions don't have to end and I can continue to develop ideas and conversations with Sara and classmates beyond class time. I also like the blog because sometimes a thought about class or the readings doesn't occur to me until after class. The blog allows a forum to share that idea whereas in a lot of other classes that opportunity isn't there. With the complex theories we've discussed I think that is especially useful as sometimes I'm still formulating my thoughts long after class ends. I also like the way the blog encourages students to draw on each other. I have found that our knowledge seems to be valued more than in other University spaces as our reflections can build off each other in interesting ways in comments and the mash-up assignment. I didn't find twitter to be as useful but I think that could be a personal problem. I didn't check twitter nearly as much as I checked the blog. Although, I think live-tweeting Gender Trouble did help me as it forced me to think about the reading as I was going through it and summarize. Tweeting can be useful to boil down dense texts and I found that it increased my engagement.
I would encourage future students to not be as scared of the blog and twitter as I was. Looking at the assignment sheet made me feel wary but it is useful to engage as you go along. I think the blog is a useful tool that students should engage beyond the worksheet with because it really furthers these discussions and helps to express ideas and I know the comments from other students helped me to develop my own thoughts.
I think the blog and twitter acted as a way to queer the classroom space. It promoted low theory through tracking terms. We were encouraged to use non-academic sources in ways that pushed my understanding of the term. The blog and twitter also allows us to value not only what Sara has to offer but also the knowledge and advice of our classmates. Reminiscent of Luhman, the blog encourages conversations with classmates and allows us to push each other and offer advice. The comments from my classmates were useful in developing ideas. Twitter can also offer queer ways to engage with the texts and share my thoughts. It was useful to think about texts alongside and through twitter, not only to share my thoughts but also to consolidate them for myself.

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