Intimate terrorism and mundane violence: Remapping "terrorism" through queer, multiracial feminist theories, fiction, and stand-up comedy




Sibbett, Megan

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Prior to, but especially following September 11, 2001, "terrorism" in the U.S. is largely represented within a racialized framework as something non-domestic and exclusively associated with the global south. In order to complicate the ideology of "terrorism," which is a colonizing system of meaning sustained through popular tropes, intimate terror through the state, and mundane violences, I first locate tropes of the "terrorist" figure within popular culture, news media, and academia. As such tropes, accompanied by the simulacra of torture and violence, become integrated into national, political, and media discourses, they shift beyond metaphor and into (r)evolving attitudes and (re)actions regarding terrorism and the war.

Yet, as I ultimately argue, the ideology of "terrorism" is not untouchable or uncontested; rather, it is scrutinized and subverted through multiracial feminist theories, novels, and performances in differing ways. Through Chicana feminist, Gloria Anzaldúa's conceptualization of "intimate terrorism," which accounts for colonial, hegemonic violence as well as the persistent threat of violence, I develop a more nuanced approach to "terrorism" and the "war on terror," as well as a necessary recognition of mundane violence that implicates the state. The often overlooked or ignored mundane violence can be found especially within the celebratory spaces of U.S. exceptionalism, consumerism, and histories of progress. Furthermore, I extend Anzaldúa's "intimate terrorism" through a polyvocal, multiracial feminist framework that indicts the imperialist and exceptionalist enterprises of the U.S. while also problematizing the neoliberal "feminist" support for the "war on terror." After elaborating on the theoretical paradigm of "intimate terrorism" and mundane violence, I analyze novels and stand-up comedy that provoke challenges to the ideology of "terrorism" and torture while drawing attention to the violence of U.S. imperialism. Specifically, I explicate two novels with queer protagonists--Emma Pérez's Forgetting the Alamo, or, Blood Memory and Helena Viramontes's Their Dogs Came with Them. In my final chapter, I analyze the queer stand-up comedy of Wanda Sykes, Marga Gomez, and Margaret Cho that, I argue, (re)situate "terrorism" within and against celebrated historical frameworks as well as "war on terror" patriotisms.


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Black Feminism, Chicana Feminism, Popular Culture, Terrorism