The Right to Maim: Debility, Capacity, Disability


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Jasbir K. Puar, Associate Professor of Women's & Gender Studies, Rutgers University
Event Date: 
November 8, 2017
Event Time: 
2239 Lane Hall
Event Accessibility : 
Ramp and elevator access at the E. Washington Street entrance (by the loading dock). There are accessible restrooms on the south end of Lane Hall, on each floor of the building. A gender neutral restroom is available on the first floor.
abstract art from 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). Cosponsors: Department of English, Arab and Muslim American Studies, Doing Queer Studies Now, Asian/Pacific Islander American Studies, American Culture, the UM Initiative on Disability Studies, the Department of Women's Studie, 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 The Right to Maim: Debility, Capacity, Disability (November 2017, Duke University Press), and Terrorist Assemblages: Homonationalism in Queer Times (2007, Duke University Press).

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