Beginning tomorrow, the Philosophy Department at this university will be sponsoring the Twenty-third annual “Philosophy Born of Struggle Conference,” at which the keynote speaker will be Dr. Lisa Corrigan, an associate professor of Communication at the University of Arkansas. Up there in the heart of the Ozarks, Dr. Corrigan also serves as Director of Gender Studies and is affiliated with both African and African-American, and Latin American, Studies.
A keynote panel has been assembled to comment on Dr. Corrigan’s address. Its members are Rozena Maart, Philile Langa, and Zaria Govender. Dr. Maart is a native of South Africa, appears to be of more distant South-Asian extraction, and now lives and lectures in Canada. An award-winning poet with a British Ph.D. in Cultural Studies, she concerns herself with matters connected to race and gender. Langa and Govender were both graduate students working under Dr. Maart when she was on the faculty at the University of Kwazulu-Natal. Both appear to share their advisor’s interests.
One suspects that the organizers of the “Philosophy Born of Struggle Conference” are beginning to have disquieting premonitions of empty seats, and that this explains the advertisement that appeared in my mailbox this morning. But this is not what aroused my interest.
What did arouse my interest was the mention, in the abstract of Dr. Corrigan’s talk, of “Jasbir Puar’s notion of homonationalism.” It turns out that Jasbir Puar is a “U.S.-based queer theorist” in the Department of Women’s and Gender Studies at Rutgers University. Like Dr. Maart, she appears to be of South-Asian extraction, and is in any case only “based” on the banks of the beautiful Raritan River.
Puar’s notion of “homonationalism” is, like so much else in the postmodern academy, a coy play on words. By it she means that Western peoples have lined up behind their homo(sexuals) in order to exclude Muslims, who they claim are homo(phobic), and that this is nothing but a racist plot to remain homo(genous). Thus a “homonationalist” is a person who overtly advocates tolerance of homosexuals, but only because they covertly advocate intolerance of Muslims.
“Homonationalism” is, of course, a virulent hybrid of “homophobia” and “islamophobia,” and against this virus there would seem to be no possible vaccine. If you find yourself in the crosshairs of the “homophobia” death-ray and jump aside, it will only be to find yourself in the crosshairs of the “islamophobia” death-ray. And jumping back won’t solve a thing. Of course by “you,” I don’t mean you, if you are only “based” in the U.S. (or Canada). But if you are one of the lowlifes who presume to live here (and plan to die here, although prefer this not be right away), I’d suggest you get used to jumping. We live in a “homonationalist” world, and only the nimble survive.
There’s still time to catch a flight down to College Station and partake of this feast of reason.