Homonationalism is a term that adds a critical queer perspective to Orientalism. Orientalism looks at the ways that the West dominates the ‘Orient” through academia, culture, and colonialism, while, Homonationalism “unlike Orientalism, speaks particularly to the way gender and sexual rights discourses become central to contemporary forms of Western hegemony.”[1] Homonationalism was a term coined in 2007 by Jasbir Puar in Terrorist Assemblages. Puar highlights how our post 9/11 world has developed a sexual exceptionalism that has been propagated by feminist constructions of “third world” women that has western genders and sexualities as modern and “castigates the Other as homophobic and perverse, construct the imperialist center as ‘tolerant’ but sexually, racially, and gendered normal.”[2] Many activists, artists and scholars explore the complexities of intersectionality in globalization and queer identities through Puar’s informative framework, which has taken its own life outside of the academic tenure tracked time line and process.[3]

The West conceptualizes its gender and sexual freedoms and constructions as universal. This perspective can taint a context where the gender identities, sexual orientations, and gender expressions are social constructed within a different culture and society, which conversely is understood through Orientalism. Acknowledging the affects of Homonationalism is important when addressing work dealing with gender, sexuality, and Orientalism. The perception of the Oriental body as restricted, sexually primitive, and dangerous not only perpetuates Orientalism but also overshadows the state’s and viewer’s own cultural mistreatments of the ‘Other.’ The viewer runs the risk of homogenizing the other without distinguishing between the “Other of the Same—the laundry list of protected classes that’s the stuff of human resource offices—and the other of the Other, or the folks who are completely off the pedagogical grid.”[4] This perspective is especially relevant in relationship to Essaydi’s work because she only features women with undisclosed sexualities.

[1] Natalie Kouri-Tower, Trending Homonationalism, No More Potlucks, 2012: http://nomorepotlucks.org/site/trending-homonationalism/

[2] Jasbir Puar. Queer Times, Queer Assemblages, Social Text 84-5, Vol 23, 2005, Duke Press, Pg 122

[3] Naomi Greyser. Academic And Activist Assembleages: An Interview with Jasbir Puar, American Quarterly, Volume 64, Number 4, Dec 2012, 841-843.

[4] C.J. Stapel. Dismantling Metrocentic and Metronormative Curricula. Queer South Rising, Information Age Publishing. Pg 69