Analyze Everything

Time for a Monday morning tease. Or more of a mock, really. I know I shouldn’t – it’s fish/barrel stuff – but I want to, so I will.

There was this lecture, see. And it was full of new, profound, fresh, original, searching stuff that no one had ever thought of or said before. Not a word of it was stale or familiar or old news.

Jasbir Puar, an assistant professor in the department of Women’s and Gender Studies at Rutgers University, spoke on “Queer Biopolitics and the Ascendancy of Whiteness” yesterday in Stimson Hall to provide a theory for the way race and sexuality affect U.S. and international politics…Puar’s was the first of a series of lectures sponsored by the Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Department that “seek to explore the future of queer studies”…The series of lectures are also a “concerted effort to talk about race and imperialism…”

Well great! That should cover it. That should pretty much dot all the eyes and cross all the tease. Terrific. Women, gender, queerness, biopolitics, whiteness, race, sexuality, U.S. and international politics, feministgenderexuality studies, queer studies and its future, raceandimperialism. A modest menu! A humble, self-deprecating agenda for the various Studies departments. I suppose they really ought to have sorted out capitalism and acne while they were at it, but still, it’s a good try.

Puar said her lecture explored the “intersections of sexuality and the war on terror, specifically how some [lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgendered and questioning individuals] are complicit with nationalist, racist, and orientalist politics of the U.S.”

Fan-tastic! It’s about time someone cleared that up. I’ve been fuming for years now about the way lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgendered and questioning individuals, violinists, beet-pickers, cats, goldfish, and lentil farmers are complicit with nationalist, racist, and orientalist politics of the U.S., and I’ve been wondering when someone was going to point it out. At least Puar has made a start! Props to her eh.

The core of Puar’s lecture, underlying the theory and terms, focused on identity. Puar began her work as a graduate student after four years of travel around the world, where she realized her self-identity changed wherever she traveled. In an interview with The Sun, she said identity is complicated, that it is a localized concept, and that who you are depends on where you are.

Oh my god!! Identity is complicated! It can change, depending on circumstances! Wow! Who ever knew that, who ever imagined such a thing? The insight is staggering. It’s like Freud’s discovery of the unconscious, or Homi Bhabha’s discovery of liminality, which is also about the staggering discovery that identity is complicated. What a precious hour that lecture must have been, how fortunate the interdisciplinary people of Cornell who were there to hear it.

She said the ideas of her lecture are important because they “complicate single identity politics” and that organizing and activism on many college campuses focus on only one identity.

Yes. You bet. Important. Yes. Very important. Well done. ‘Complicated – identity complicated.’ Important idea. Yes.

Shirleen Robinson grad explained the idea of the dilemma of identity Puar proposed in her lecture. She said that if a guy wearing a turban is the victim of a hate crime and it also turns out he’s gay, one must analyze what identity his attackers intended to target. She said his identity can be read in different ways; his Arab identity is associated with terrorists and 9/11, while harems and a mystique of hypersexuality are associated with his sexual identity.

Err…yeah, and his jeans and T shirt are associated with creeping Americanization and the Starbucks cup he is holding is associated with globalization and the copy of Discipline and Punish he is carrying is associated with Paris and the Marlboro he is smoking is associated with cowboys. Could keep the analyzers busy for some time.

“I think there are ways of talking about diversity and inclusiveness that embrace initiatives like open hearts, open minds,” Villarejo said, but added that “a lot of those communities are deeply homophobic” and that we need to “make sure discourse of inclusivity is also offered” to queer African Americans, queer Asian Americans, and queer Latinos.

You forgot queer Native Americans! And queer Muslims! And queer disabled African Americans! And queer disabled – stop, cut it out, what are you doing, get off, help, let go of me

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