No pride in apartheid : modernity, sexuality and culture in homonationalism
Michelle R. Flores
May 12, 2014
Department or Program
This paper examines the political stakes of homonational discourses in Israeli pinkwashing and the 2006 Dutch Act on Civic Integration Abroad. Jasbir Puar conceives of homonationalism as an analytic for understanding the dual movement of sanctioned homonormative queer subjectivities into the protection of the nation state and the expulsion of "deviant" Muslim subjects from the possibility of national belonging. Using a modified version of grounded theory to examine government and non-governmental documents, I trace the deployment of discourses of modernity, sexuality and race in Israeli LGBT marketing and Dutch immigrant integration policy. In an effort to brand itself as a modern democracy and to obscure the violence of its occupation of Palestine, Israel markets itself internationally as exceptionally tolerant and accepting of LGBT populations. Through deploying calculated tropes of homophobia, fanaticism and irrationality, Israel portrays the entire Middle East as a "backward" site where violent "Muslim culture" is able to take hold at the expense of imperiled queer populations. Similarly, the Netherlands constructs itself as a site of sexual exceptionalism in terms of its legal and social acceptance of LGBT individuals. The Netherlands uses this status to justif y the expulsion of supposedly homophobic Turkish and Moroccan immigrants. Dutch homonationalism constructs a modern and liberal Dutch national culture against a dependent, violent, and overly religious Muslim culture. In both cases "Muslim culture" becomes the catchall term for multiple axes of difference that would appear to be separate analytics. Muslim religious affiliation becomes tied to Arab race, which is tied to violent and homophobic behaviors. In this way, homonationalism consolidates a vision of the world that sorts bodies into populations that deserve the protection of the state (homonormative queers among them) and "dangerous" populations that must be cast out from the nation. I argue that my project ultimately demonstrates the necessity of studying homonationalism in the political and historical context in whi ch it occurs and studying it intersectionally along multiple axes of difference.