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Amy L. Brandzel
Assistant Professor
American Studies and Women Studies

University of New Mexico

I am currently working on completing my manuscript, Against Citizenship: Queer Intersections and the Violence of the Normative. The book investigates the legal, historical, and cultural constructions of the norms of U.S. citizenship and identity within the context of U.S. imperialism and empire. At its most fundamental level, Against Citizenship actively resists the banal references to “we” and “us” in regards to U.S. identity and belonging, and demonstrates how these references not only reveal normative belief systems, but also enact violence (rhetorical, emotional, corporeal, social, and institutional) on non-normative bodies, practices, behaviors, and forms of affiliation.

In order to investigate the intersectional nature of normative citizenship, my book offers a comparative analysis of four legal case studies: same-sex marriage law, hate crime legislation, the partial birth abortion ban, and Native Hawaiian racial status and sovereignty. I focus on the legal and political debates in each of the case studies, and offer critical readings of the related court cases, national legislation, congressional debates, media coverage, and position papers from activist groups. Each of these case studies focuses on different aspects of normative citizenship, such as the heteronormative within marriage law or the colonialnormative in regards to the status of Native Hawaiians. By examining these different claims in relationship to each other, I work to expose the intersectional nature of the norms of citizenship as well as the sheer resistance by the U.S. legal system to recognize the mutual processes of colonialism, racism, sexism, and heterosexism. Taking citizenship to task, Against Citizenship demonstrates how the norms of U.S. citizenship, namely whiteness, American exceptionalism, and empire building, are reproduced through law, reified in history, and perpetuated through identity politics. Against Citizenship moves queer critique away from a focus on gay and lesbian identities, and works more directly to analyze violent processes of the state, showcasing how to queer – as in, to disrupt, make strange, and denaturalize – the violent norms of citizenship.

An article that will be forthcoming from the journal Feminist Studies is titled, “Haunted by Citizenship: Whitenormative Citizen-Subjects and the Uses of History in Women’s Studies.” The article argues that the intellectual history of feminism can be used, naively or surreptitiously, in order to recover a unitary whitenormative citizen-subject of Women’s Studies, to recapture “her” before she was dismantled by postcolonial studies, transgender studies, and poststructuralism.

I also have a collaborative working relationship with Asian American Studies and Cultural Studies scholar, Jigna Desai. One of our co-authored articles has already been published by the Journal of Asian American Studies in 2008, titled, “Masculinity, Violence, and Terror: The Cultural Defensibility of Heteronormative Citizenship in the Virginia Tech Massacre and the Don Imus Affair." We have two more articles in process, and no doubt a few more in our future.

My next book project will interrogate the relationships between imperialism and sexuality by investigating the uses and deployments of “transnational” and “queer” objects and subjects within both the U.S. academy and U.S. legal institutions. The agenda is to examine the increasing demand for queer and transnational objects/subjects via analyses of U.S. imperialism, the history of western hegemonic feminism, and the increasing “spread” of GLBT liberation rhetoric, queer mobility, and queer consumption. The project will include case studies involving recent changes in U.S. immigration law with a specific focus on family reunification policies; the queering of “sex” via transgender case law and its connection to intersectionality; and an analysis of the struggles over the sexual and the transnational as objects of study within Women’s Studies, GLBT Studies, American Studies, and Ethnic Studies.



University of New Mexico: Women Studies, Mesa Vista Hall 2136 and American Studies, Humanities 454; brandzel@unm.edu