Synopses & Reviews
In Freedom with Violence, Chandan Reddy develops a new paradigm for understanding race, sexuality, and national citizenship. He examines a crucial contradiction at the heart of modernity: the nation-state’s claim to provide freedom from violence depends on its systematic deployment of violence against peoples perceived as nonnormative and irrational. Reddy argues that the modern liberal state is organized as a “counterviolence” to race even as, and precisely because, race persists as the condition of possibility for the modern subject. Rejecting liberal notions of modernity as freedom from violence or revolutionary ideas of freedom through violence, Reddy contends that liberal modernity is a structure for authorizing state violence. Contemporary neoliberal societies link freedom to the notion of legitimate (state) violence and produce narratives of liberty that tie rights and citizenship to institutionalized violence. To counter these formulations, Reddy proposes an alternative politics of knowledge grounded in queer of color critique and critical ethnic studies. He uses issues that include asylum law and the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy to illustrate this major rethinking of the terms of liberal modernity.
Explores the relationship between race, knowledge, and violence that underpins U.S. modernity.
About the Author
“Freedom with Violence is a one of a kind, once in a generation kind of book. Chandan Reddy argues that ‘American political modernity’ depends absolutely on a notion of freedom crafted out of a constitutive violence which takes the form of race. In chapters on Dubois and the logics of nationality and territoriality, Nella Larson and the history of black alienation, immigration and sexuality, and gay marriage and the perils of legal recognition, he pulls his argument into tighter and tighter spirals, connecting his thesis about race to brilliantly original accounts of sexuality and making stunning connections between North American racial politics and European colonialism. This is a classic, landmark study.”—Judith Halberstam, author of The Queer Art of Failure“Freedom with Violence is one of the most important books of our time. Chandan Reddy formulates a new understanding of the relationship between the state and non-normative social identities, explains the epistemological foundations for prevailing political practices, and argues for the urgent need to deploy queer of color critique and build a critical ethnic studies from it. Moving deftly across disciplines and decades, analyzing literature and law, social identities and state formation, expressive culture and critical theory, he reveals unexpected links between the race-gender-sex-citizenship nexus that emerged at the turn of the twentieth century and the one that prevails at the turn of the twenty-first.”—George Lipsitz, author of How Racism Takes Place
Table of Contents
Introduction. Freedom's Amendments: Race, Sexuality, and Disposability under the State Form 1
1. Freedom and Violence in W. E. B. Du Bois's Souls of Black Folk: The Land of Racial Equality 55
2. Legal Freedom as Violence in Nella Larsen's Quicksand: Black Literary Publics during the Interwar Years 90
3. Rights-Based Freedom with Violence: Immigration, Sexuality, and the Subject of Human Rights 143
4. Moving beyond a Freedom with Violence: The Politics of Gay Marriage in the Era of Racial Transformation 182
Conclusion. Don't Ask, Don't Tell 219