On Pinkwatching, Pinkwashing, and the Queer Resistance to Zionism

In August, Jasbir Puar and Maya Mikdashi published a piece on pinkwatching and pinkwashing. Below is an excerpt from the piece, found here:

Pinkwashing insists that the “queer Palestinian subject” and homophobia show up on Israeli/global terms. Pinkwatching advocates for solidarity for the Palestinian cause only if, and because, Palestinian “queerness” and homophobia shows up on the United States’ terms—terms recognizable by global queer identity formations. In fact, Palestinian queers cannot be cut from the fabric of Palestinian society in a way that mimics the identity politics of the gay(s) internationally. Furthermore, “homophobia” now circulates as a purportedly transparent form of violence that all queers are subject to, regardless of geopolitical locations or historical, cultural, and economic variability. As shorthand for the myriad and complex manners through which heterosexuality can be a privileged form of social organization, it thus also reduces all heterosexualities to the same construct. This globalizing of the term homophobia, and its attendant assumptions works, therefore suture, rather than disrupt the hetero-homo binary and the gender binary upon which it rests/is intertwined.

In response, Heike Schotten and Haneen Maikey recently published a rebuttal, found here. An excerpt:

Pinkwashing is more than a branding campaign that queer Americans can congratulate themselves for opposing.  The conventional depiction of pinkwashing as an attempt to divert attention away from the occupation is simplistic and one-dimensional. In Palestine, pinkwashing is part of the ongoing Nakba. Both Zionism and pinkwashing depend on a notion of the prior destruction and continued negation of Palestine and Palestinian belonging. This is the case whether one interprets Zionism as homophobic, gay-friendly, or—in its popular narrative form—as having followed a historical trajectory from an originary homophobia toward ever-increasing tolerance. Zionism must be understood as a historically specific, racialized process through which different discourses of sexuality emerge that bolster, rather than undermine, Zionist ideology.  

Puar and Makdishi responded with a follow-up, here. The following is an excerpt:

A quick word on homonationalism, in regards to what Maikey and Schotten refer to as the overemphasis of homonationalism in relation to pinkwashing and Palestine. Homonationalism and pinkwatching are not parallel phenomenon, rather pinkwatching is one manifestation and practice that is made possible within and because of homonationalism. As theorized by Puar in her formative work on the concept, homonationalism is not another identity politics, not another way of distinguishing good queers from bad queers, not an accusation, and not a position. It is rather a facet of modernity and a historical shift marked by the entrance of (some) homosexual bodies as those now worthy of protection by nation-states. Unlike pinkwashing, homonationalism is not a state practice per se. It is instead the historical convergence of state practices, transnational circuits of queer commodity culture and human rights paradigms, and broader global phenomenon such as the increasing entrenchment of Islamophobia.  These are just some of the circumstances through which nation-states are now vested with the status of “gay-friendly” versus “homophobic.” More importantly, homonationalism is an analytic category deployed to understand and historicize how and why such a status (“gay-friendly”) has become desirable in the first place.  Like modernity, homonationalism can be resisted and re-signified, but not opted out of: we are all conditioned by it and through it.

Links for the pieces in full-length:

  1. Pinkwatching And Pinkwashing: Interpenetration and its Discontents
  2. Queers Resisting Zionism: On Authority and Accountability Beyond Homonationalism
  3. On Positionality and Not Naming Names: A Rejoinder to the Response by Maikey and Schotten
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