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Terrorist Assemblages: Homonationalism in Queer Times

4.13  ·  Rating details ·  840 Ratings  ·  46 Reviews
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 ...more
Paperback, 335 pages
Published October 26th 2007 by Duke University Press Books (first published January 1st 2007)
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Dec 28, 2012 rated it did not like it
the most cynical and careerist thing i've ever read. i have no idea why this person is so hostile towards critical thought. it's taken me at least 3 years to read it. everytime i open it, try to start, get angry and put it down. according to jasbir, in a fashion described so as to be taken as a rather fixed sequence of causality, we are affect prior to our identities. in other words i could be a straight woman and then pretend to have the stunning insight that some queers are not inherently oppo ...more
May 16, 2015 added it
Shelves: non-fiction
Rating this book doesn't seem appropriate because while I couldn't say I liked very much of the reading of it, it is of irrefutable importance in my field so I will need to find my way into it. Some have said it is impossible to read, but as a literature student I didn't have a problem with it. I will admit I was happy to have finished reading it. As Puar is rather imaginative and creative with language, when I couldn't pin down a meaning I just accepted that and continued on, knowing that the m ...more
Jasbir Puar is hardcore. No one is safe from the wrath of her pen.

Combining theory, metaphor and oodles of concrete examples, Puar shows how certain groups of people are able to assimilate, how others use that selective assimilation as an excuse to consider themselves exceptional, and how the world of torture, terrorism, and its reflection in popular culture and academia sometimes act in tandem to oppress or erase unacceptable populations. The introduction and preface are both theory-heavy (and
Apr 19, 2009 rated it did not like it
Shelves: queer-theory
Paur's "Terrorist Assemblages" is an example of theory allowed to substitute for concrete analysis. In the end, Paur's argument is simply one more chapter in the arguments ("Q vs. R", it was called in the Eighties) between those in the gay world who see same-sex preferences as only one factor in life, and those who hope to see "queerness" as a tool for radical subversion. In the end, Paur has simply used postcolonial theory to attack the idea of gay assimilation into liberal society in the West. ...more
Sep 20, 2008 rated it really liked it
This book argues that in these fearful times formed by the global war on terror and neoliberal capitalist policies that queer identities are being commodified by white heterosexual society in order to more fully control the processes of the body, the mind, and most importantly one's psychic identification with the nation state.
May 21, 2009 rated it it was ok
I am a Ph. D. candidate at an ELITE Research One University, and I could not understand this book. My professor didn't know how to teach it to us, and he's a very smart dude. What does that say about this text? Not good things, I must say.
Jun 30, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Some day I want to write like Jasbir Puar. That is all.
micha cardenas
Sep 10, 2008 rated it it was amazing
In my search for books to use as the focus of my MFA project, this is definitely one of the best books I've come across. It flows from the richly productive intersection of queer theory, postcolonial theory and poststructuralist theory, as the title implies. Yet this author isn't content to demonstrate how a concept from Deleuze is demonstrated by her example, she vibrantly puts these concepts to work in a passionate attempt to critically examine queer politics and find out exactly how it is bei ...more
Dec 17, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This is definitely one of the most important texts of the last decade with a great complicated argument-a good thing because complicated problems require complicated analysis. I'm not much of a theory head and this book is full of academic language-sometimes excessively and unneccessarily so-but I didn't really find it that hard to follow. I enjoyed this argument a lot more the times I read it in essay form though. Also I do wish that if Puar was going to get into as big an idea as why intersect ...more
Kyle Bella
Mar 08, 2010 rated it really liked it
Though a complicated and challenging book that at time suffers from being too wrapped up in academic jargon, it dares you to think of queerness and embodiment in new ways. Like Heather Love of "Feeling Backward: Loss and the Politics of Queer History," Puar posits a radical queer force that challenges assimilation movements within popular LGBT cultures. It is something people should read but only with the utmost care and time.
Dec 22, 2007 rated it really liked it
Had to read this for thesis, but also, a class. The class forced me to plunge through it. The professor's advice was to read the conclusion first, then the chapters, then the intro; that helped more.

Here concepts, as metaphors are strung nicely throughout the book. One of the better texts I've seen to methodologically use interdisciplinarity... Also critical of intersectionality, but proposes assemblages. An excellent academic read.
Kristin Perkins
Apr 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018, gsr, adulthood
standing ovation worthy scholarship
Stef Rozitis
I think this book raised some pretty good issues, and ones that had made me uncomfortable with the way we are all meant to assimilate "queerness" in one narrow way and politically work out of that. Also with the sort of xenophobic, racist and generally orientalist ideas floating around as "common sense" at the moment. My peeve with this book is I wondered if at times the language was deliberately so hard to understand. Maybe not...but it was maddening that "Assemblages" which is a big idea in te ...more
Scott Neigh
Reviewed here.
Jan 06, 2011 rated it it was amazing

This book is rocking my world! Reminding me why I am in academia!!!
Roger Green
Aug 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book remains timely a decade after its first publication. Puar employs schizo-analysis, gender theory, queer theory, and feminist theory in order to make a case for combined attention to both affective assemblages (in Deleuze & Guattari's sense) and intersectional analyses of biopolitical subjectivation (in Foucault's sense). Along the way, Puar gives a rich reading of many other scholars working in affect theory while covering Supreme Court decisions, racism, citizenship, violence towa ...more
Matt Sautman
Jun 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
Puar's critiques of homonationalism and work on how terrorists function as queer subjects make this book incredibly thought provoking. But Puar's writing can also be quite dense. Whenever Puar is not utilizing a text to clarify her thoughts and further her analysis, the amount of citations she incorporates can be overwhelming. I can see why people would not finish this book if they do not have a clear investment in queer theory and/or post-9/11 American culture.
Sanchari Sur
Dec 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A little difficult to plow through, but extremely rewarding.
Feb 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: lgbtqia
Excellent book, but very academic and a heavy read. Definitely worth it though, but I'd recommend reading "Orientalism" by Edward Said first.
Gabe Riggs
Nov 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
One of few truly intersectional books that unveils the machinery of white power in gay politics.
Lukas Hall
"As nationhood and queerness are both indebted to modernity, and modern sexual identities are built on the histories of colonialism, nation formation and empire, and racialization, the nation is founded on the (homo)sexual other. As mentioned earlier, Fanon's corpus of work is luminously suggestive of the homosexual fantasies and fears that found nationalism, whereby his anxieties about interracial heterosexual relations filter out homoerotic charges and antagonisms between colonized and coloniz ...more
Feb 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
Brilliant. Although I felt parts of the arguments relied more on rhetoric than evidence, though that might have just been misunderstandings as the text is both dense and complex. Regardless it is essential for discussing assemblages and intersectionality, especially in terms of subaltern, critical theory, and queer theory.
Jan 24, 2009 rated it really liked it
Really enjoyed this. (Well, not enjoy in the sense that I enjoy the idea of torture, but---you know.)

Although I am still a little bit fuzzy on the whole idea of co-opting the American gay demographic to rally in "homonationalist" glory against foreign gay racial others, she makes cogent points about the intersectionality missing in this "homonationalist" population that I think is worth examining. Puar's analysis of the atrocities of Abu Ghraib are searing and unflinching, and I honestly could n
Tristan Bridges
Apr 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Puar does an incredibly job illustrating how queer theory can be applied to global issues and concerns in ways that illustrate how discourses of nationalism, terrorism, citizenship, and more are intimately connected with heteronormative structures, politics, ideas, and ideals. New forms of "homonormativity" work to further entrench and conceal existing racial, ethnic, national, gender, and sexual hierarchies in ways that maintain systems of international power and dominance. She refers to these ...more
Nov 04, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Puar demonstrates the interconnections of race and sex by arguing that America's concept of itself as sexually exceptional has produced a homonormativity which accepts certain gays/lesbians (specifically those who reinforce heteronormative kinship, and those who are white/middle class), against which it poses the "terrorist" other as a site of non-normative sexuality and race. Puar suggests that affect and Deleuzian assemblage are helpful tools for establishing new modes of political alliance th ...more
Jun 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: queer, lefty, theory
Brilliant stuff, throughout. Application to my field will be challenging, in part because of the Theory nature of the language here, but more because of the fairly advanced anti-oppression paradigm she assumes. Asking people, e.g., to think race, religion, gender, and sexuality as common grounds for analysis, rather than simply points of intersection among ranked oppressions, is simply going to be too much for most churches. We're still blowing minds with the notion that racism isn't the same as ...more
May 13, 2011 rated it it was ok
Puar's work promises so much more than it is ultimately able to deliver. She offers a cogent, and quite necessary critique, of homonormativity's encounter with the nation-state, a meeting she calls "homonationalism." However, she often tends towards essentializing the queer as that which must be, by its existence, radical, and her figuration of the suicide bomber as that which performs the duty the queer should otherwise perform (I'm assuming metaphorically?) seems intended only to be provocativ ...more
Alasdair Ekpenyong
Jun 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
Very powerful read. This book discusses the way Westerners misgender and fetishize colored bodies as a way of establishing bureaucratic control over them. While every chapter was good, the most surprising discussion was the consideration of the Sikh turban and how Sikh men, like veil-wearing Muslim women, have taken upon themselves the responsibility for publicly performing the honor politics of their religion. Sikh, Hindu, and Muslim religious fashion are a useful field of inquiry within fashio ...more
Feb 15, 2012 rated it liked it
Most of this book went over my head. Struggled not to believe she was being needlessly dense as I, only occasionally, grasped bits of insight. HOWEVER, the last chapter alone (with a poignant critique of intersectionality and a brave look at suicide bombers) makes this worthy of 3 stars (rather than a lower rating) and is must read.
Kari Barclay
Jul 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
Read over the conclusion first, which clarifies a lot of Puar's ideas. The notion of queerness as assemblage is brilliant, and it informs the rest of the book, which deals with the rise of homonationalism through queer buy-in to capitalism and the legal system and, correspondingly, how queerness constructs perceptions of terror and those marked as terrorists.
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Jasbir K. Puar is Associate Professor of Women’s & Gender Studies at Rutgers University. She has also been a Visiting Lecturer in the Department of Performance Studies at NYU and a Visiting Fellow at the Institute for Cultural Inquiry in Berlin. She received her Ph.D. in Ethnic Studies from the University of California at Berkeley in 1999 and an M.A. from the University of York (UK) in Women’s ...more
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