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Presented By: Institute for Research on Women and Gender

The Right to Maim: Debility, Capacity, Disability

Jasbir K. Puar, Associate Professor of Women's & Gender Studies, Rutgers University

book cover book cover
book cover
In "The Right to Maim" Jasbir K. Puar brings her pathbreaking work on the liberal state, sexuality, and biopolitics to bear on our understanding of disability. Drawing on a stunning array of theoretical and methodological frameworks, Puar uses the concept of “debility”—bodily injury and social exclusion brought on by economic and political factors—to disrupt the category of disability. She shows how debility, disability, and capacity together constitute an assemblage that states use to control populations. Puar's analysis culminates in an interrogation of Israel's policies toward Palestine, in which she outlines how Israel brings Palestinians into biopolitical being by designating them available for injury. Supplementing its right to kill with what Puar calls the right to maim, the Israeli state relies on liberal frameworks of disability to obscure and enable the mass debilitation of Palestinian bodies. Tracing disability's interaction with debility and capacity, Puar offers a brilliant rethinking of Foucauldian biopolitics while showing how disability functions at the intersection of imperialism and racialized capital.

Presented by IRWG's Colonialism, Race & Sexualities Initiative (CRSI) with support from Arab and Muslim American Studies, the Department of English, the Doing Queer Studies Now Rackham Interdisciplinary Workshop, Asian/Pacific Islander American Studies, the Department of American Culture, the UM Initiative on Disability Studies, Disability Studies Rackham Interdisciplinary Workshop, the Department of Women's Studies, and the Critical Ethnic and Asian/Pacific Islander American Studies Workshop.

Jasbir K. Puar is Professor of Women's and Gender Studies at Rutgers University and the author of Terrorist Assemblages: Homonationalism in Queer Times, published by Duke University Press.

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