In Terrorist Assemblages Jasbir Puar argues that the U.S. war on terror engenders among U.S. queer subjects a homonormative nationalism, or “homonationalism.” Puar examines how, by appealing to or being embraced by the antiterrorist state, U.S. queers appear as a form of “U.S. exceptionalism.” Their protection or promotion by U.S. imperialism then supports and extends, in Rey Chow’s terms, “the ascendancy of whiteness.” Puar adapts Foucauldian theory of biopolitics to argue that a key effect of the war on terror is the production of white heteronorm tive national subjects of life. In turn, terrorists and all who are linked to them are framed as racial and sexual populations marked for death, in a parallel process Achille Mbembe terms “necropolitics.”2 Puar has extended these arguments in other writing with Amit Rai, by arguing that both these life- and death-enhancing projects frame the terrorist as a monster who can be read as queer. This is so especially if colonial discourses conflate racialized terrorists with sexual perversion or uphold the heteronormativity of white citizens as in need of enhancement or defense. But as Puar and Rai note, the war on terror creates white heteronorma- tive nationalism as not a target but the agent of terrorizing brutality. Terror in fact is the function of the biopolitics that purports to oppose it.3 This is the context in which U.S. queer subjects become homonationalist: when they try to join an imperial biopolitics as liberal subjects of life, they become what Puar calls “queer as regulatory” over other, queered populations in relation to which they also exert terrorizing control.
By Scott Lauria Morgensen, 2010