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date: 10 December 2022

Homonationalism’s Viral Travelslocked

Homonationalism’s Viral Travelslocked

  • Hana MasriHana MasriAnnenberg School of Communication, University of Pennsylvania

Summary

First defined by Jasbir Puar in 2007, homonationalism refers to the collusion between LGBTQ subjects or rights discourses and nationalism. This definition contrasts with previous transnational queer and feminist analyses. Homonationalism instead describes a form of national homonormativity and sexual exceptionalism in which some LGBTQ subjects are complicit with, rather than excluded from, nationalism and imperialism. This recognition and incorporation into the nation is predicated on the nation’s production and disposal of populations of racial and sexual others, particularly through Orientalist constructions of undesirable Muslim and Arab sexualities and genders. The literature on homonationalism thus explains how certain queer and trans subjectivities are mobilized in service of modernity’s racial, capitalist, imperial, and colonial projects, such as the U.S. “War on Terror.”

In addition to this original definition, the framework of homonationalism has been expanded to refer to the way LGBTQ rights have become a barometer by which to evaluate nations’ and populations’ right to sovereignty at the global political scale. This includes, for example, discourses that use notions of sexually progressive multiculturalism to justify foreign intervention.

Scholars and activists alike have applied the framework of homonationalism widely, to the degree that the homonationalism has been referred to as a viral concept. Much of this uptake focuses on “pinkwashing,” a manifestation of homonationalism that refers to a nation-state’s promotion of its “gay-friendly” record in order to obscure other types of political violence, including colonialism, apartheid, and ethnic cleansing. At the same time, homonationalism’s extensive uptake has led to a proliferation of perspectives that complicate, challenge, and expand the concept’s usage; though the conditions it names emerge across contexts, its instantiations vary based on historical and geopolitical context. These differences in application inform critiques of the concept, which tend to focus on the overextension and universalization of the concept at the expense of its clarity, context specificity, and utility for activism seeking to contest homonationalist policies and practices.

Subjects

  • Gender (Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Studies)

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