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By 02/03/2023No Comments

By Gaia Giuliani

The term was coined in the aftermath of 9/11 by US gender studies scholar Jasbir Puar in her seminal work in 2007, to critically refer to the cooptation of women and gay agendas within the discourse on US nationalism, anti-immigration, and the War on Terror against the “barbarian” attacks that in 9/11 and every day “the enemy engages against US way of Life, democracy and society. Nevertheless, homonationalism was already present in many far right and conservative gay parties and movements, in many Western countries. Generally, in homonationalist discourses the enemy is the immigrant other, and especially Muslim migrants and nationals (ejected from the democratic and white national imagined community) together with their societies, state institutions and story at home. They are labelled as inherently homophobic, sexist, transphobic and illiberal and as such they need to be contained at the frontier as well as fought against in the countries of origin. Since then, it has been expanded to target all racialized immigrants who are identified as bringing ‘chaos’ into the safe space of a nation which is thus labelled as progressive, equal and just, regardless its internal social divide, the legacy of colonialism and slavery in the social structure, and enduring state violence. Since 2001, these discourses have been appropriated by many political actors far beyond the United States, right and left-wing alike. They point at the ‘need to defend the progress in civil, human and political rights the nation has made’ against an indiscriminate inflow of migrants described, despite the numbers, as an “invasion”, or against near countries (like Russia, but not Poland nor Hungry) threatening – with their backwardness – the achievements Europe and the West have made. Critical thinking has highlighted how homonationalist discourses are often paired with moral panic against an alleged “race replacement” equating the threat for terrorism, social and economic depauperating, and cultural change seen as coming with immigration, with racial decadence. Although often not openly, thus, homonationalist discourses are intrinsically white suprematist/white hegemonic. More recently, Italian scholar based in the UK, Sara Farris has coined the term “Femonationalism” which, in line with homonationalism and the seminal work of Gayatri C. Spivak on anti-brown men colonial racism, aims to highlighting the nationalist, colonial and racist implications of Eurocentric conservative and white feminist discourses on Muslim migrant women as welcomed caregivers, mobilized against Islam and Muslim men in contemporary Europe.

Related References

Dagistanli, Selda and Grewal, Kiran. 2012. “Perverse Muslim Masculinities in Contemporary Orientalist Discourse: The Vagaries of Muslim Immigration in the West.” In Global Islamophobia: Muslims and Moral Panic in the West, edited by George Morgan and Scott Poynting, eds. Routledge.  

Farris, Sara. 2017. In the Name of Women’s Rights. The Rise of Femonationalism. Duke University Press. 

Grewal, Kiran. 2012. “Reclaiming the voice of the ‘third world woman’.” Interventions 14 (4) 569-590.  

Haritaworn, Jin. 2015. Queer Lovers and Hateful Others. Regenerating Violent Times and Places. Pluto Press. 

Mohanty, Chandra T. 1988.  “Under Western Eyes: Feminist Scholarship and Colonial Discourses.” Feminist Review 30: 61–88. 

Puar, Jasbir. 2007. Terrorist Assemblages: Homonationalism in Queer Times. Durham: Duke University Press. 

Puar, Jasbir. 2013. “Rethinking homonationalism.” International Journal of Middle East Studies. 45 (2): 336–339. doi:10.1017/S002074381300007X. S2CID 232253207. 

Sayyid, Salman. 2010. Thinking Through Islamophobia: Global Perspectives. Columbia University Press, 2010. 

Spivak, Gayatri C. 1988. “Can the Subaltern Speak?” In Marxism and the Interpretation of Culture, edited by Cary Nelson & Lawrence Grossberg. University of Illinois Press. 


See also (last access: 26/1/23) 


Cite this entry as:

Giuliani, Gaia. 2023. ‘Homonationalism’. In Populisms and Emotions Glossary, edited by Cristiano Gianolla and Maíra Magalhães Lopes. Available atário