Homonationalism

The name comes from a book by Jasbir Puar, Terrorist Assemblages: Homonationalism in Queer Times, which I’ve just started reading. There’s also an excellent blog inspired by Puar’s coinage called No Homonationalism, by the group Suspect, that tracks some of the movements against it. Of course resistance to and actions against instances of homonationalism are not a new thing, even if the name is. But the phrase seems to have helped sharpen the concept and given it more of a mainstream purchase; that is, notice outside of anarchist-y, antinationalist circles. Also, Judith Butler’s recent refusal of an award from Berlin Pride has made more people more aware of instantiations of queer nationalisms. For me, it’s always a little disappointing when it takes a celebrity spokesperson to “raise consciousness” of these things, but from what I’ve read, Butler’s refusal came after a tremendous amount of pressure from qtpoc activists. So maybe it’s not the singular, individual act of heroism some would like to portray it as, but a sort of unhinging event that has occurred at the same time as other actions by more anonymous political actors that have spread recognition of the links between gay politics, race, and the nation.

Butler opens her speech by referring to racist comments made by Berlin Pride organizers, but the bulk of it is dedicated to talking about the ways that homosexuality can be used by, and has been complicit in the formation of, nationalisms and racisms. My hope for the politics of anti-homonationalism (though perhaps self-interestedly, since I’m neither q nor t nor poc but someone who sees nationalism as at least as decisive as capitalism) is that in this regard it follows Butler instead of following many self-labeled antiracist and antisexist groups: Rather than only focus on moments of individual, exceptional homonationalism — though obviously tracking those is important too — I hope anti-homonationalism continues to investigate and fight its more quotidian, micropolitical functionings: the division of labor, intellectual and manual, along gendered, sexualized, and racialized lines; the national border as the boundary of politics; and the nation-state as reterritorializer of capital and the rearrangement of exclusions required of that role, among other things. Basically, all the things Suspect calls for here.

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