Sex, Patriotism, and Marriage: Queering Citizenship in Jordan
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In the 1990s, theorisations of social justice, group membership and the politics of belonging were increasingly negotiated through the lens of citizenship, owing in part to growing concerns over multiculturalism and nationalist movements in Europe (Kymlick and Norman 1994). Citizenship, as it were, ‘was the new black, and everyone was wearing it’ (Wilson 2009). However, citizenship is historically grounded in normative assumptions about gender and sexuality (Richardson 2018; Bell and Binnie 2000; Weeks 1998). Feminist, postcolonial, and critical race interventions furthermore revealed that citizen-subjects are always already sexed (Pateman 1990), gendered (Fraser and Gordon 1992), and raced (R. Ferguson 2009). The normalising powers of citizenship thus beg the question: can citizenship be queered? And, if not (Volpp 2017; Sabsay 2014), to what end do queer collectives employ citizenship discourse? This project presents a queer of colour intervention into and lends a critical legal lens to critical citizenship studies, to investigate the potentialities of queer(ing) citizenship in Jordan. Working through a performative theory of citizenship (Isin 2017), the thesis argues that queering citizenship amounts to a methodology capable of revealing the normative practices and assumptions that underlie it. It studies the legal regulation of good Jordanian citizenship, arguing that Jordanian citizen-subjects are necessarily inscribed in a reproductive, patriotic heteronormative family ideal. Finally, the project studies Amman-based conceptual webzine, MyKali, arguing that its work (as an entity and through its published content) makes claims to Jordanian citizenship, as opposed to acceptance or tolerance. It argues that My.Kali both queers Jordanian citizenship through a consistent, critical disidentification with its core tenets; and enacts queer citizenship in the digital sphere, making possible queer futures that link back and hope to transform the nation-state. Overall, the thesis thus revisits symptomatic debates on the articulation of queer strategies in/of the Arab Middle East in anglophone academia.
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