Jasbir Puar, an associate professor of Women’s and Gender Studies at Rutgers University, has managed to both be an LGBT activist and queer studies professor and at the same time demonize Israel at the expense of Palestine. She does this, of course, by claiming that gay rights in Israel (there are none in Palestine) is an example of Israeli “pinkwashing” or “golden handcuffs“. This is a classic example of how the anti-Israel faction of the Left is adept at turning virtues into vices, for Puar ignores the abrogation of gay rights by Palestine–so violent is her hatred of Israel.
She’s also claimed, falsely, that Israelis systematically poison the Palestinian populace with chemicals and radiation, do medical experiments on Palestinian children, and harvest the organs of dead Palestinians. This woman has a dicey relationship with the truth.
I spent an unpleasant hour after a nap reading, or rather straining to read, Puar’s prose, and suddenly realized that her writing, and in all likelihood her politics, are heavily influenced by postmodernism. The first, politics, by a blatant disregard of truth in favor of “privileging” one’s hatred and ideology, and the second, her writing, by its tedious and almost unbearable opacity. Working my way through an interview with Puar, which I strongly suspect was a written and not live one, I came across this three-sentence paragraph, which rivals Judith Butler’s famous sentence that won the Bad Writing Contest in 1998. (It has not escaped my notice that Butler also does gender studies and queer theory, and that Puar got her Ph.D. in those same fields where Butler teaches: at Berkeley.)
Here, my friends, is a single paragraph showing the wages of postmodernism in both thought and expression. I did not enact the emotional labor to untangle its meaning, but if you read what she’s written, it’s pretty much all like this. If you wish, you can tell me what it means.
In Terrorist Assemblages I propose a rapproachment of Foucauldian biopolitics and Achille Mbembe’s critique of it through what I call a ‘bio-necro collaboration’, one that conceptually acknowledges biopower’s direct activity to death, while remaining bound to the optimalization of life, and necropolitics’ nonchalance towards death even as it seeks out killing as a primary aim. I allege that it is precisely within the interstices of life and death that we find the differences between queer subjects who are being folded (back) into life and the racialized queernesses that emerge through the naming of populations, thus fueling the oscillation between the disciplining of subjects and control of populations. The result of the successes of queer incorporation into the domains of consumer markets and social recognition in the post-civil rights, late twentieth-century era, these various entries by queers into the biopolitics optimalization of life mark a shift, as homosexual bodies have been historically understood as endlessly cathected to death, from being figures of death (i.e., the AIDS pandemic) to becoming tied to ideas of life and productivity (i.e., gay marriage and reproductive kinship).
I don’t care what you say: there is NO EXCUSE for writing this badly, and yet this is considered good writing by postmodernists, for whom clarity is a vice.