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Border PoliticsSocial Movements, Collective Identities, and Globalization$
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Nancy A. Naples and Jennifer Bickham Mendez

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9781479898992

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9781479898992.001.0001

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Imperial Gazes and Queer Politics

Imperial Gazes and Queer Politics

Re/Reading Female Political Subjectivity in Pakistan

(p.120) 5 Imperial Gazes and Queer Politics
Border Politics

Moon M. Charania

NYU Press

In July 2007, the Lal Masjid (Red Mosque) became the site of a violent weeklong siege between the mosque's seminary students and the Pakistani military when the students of Jamia Hafza Madrasa, the enjoining religious school for women, rose in a violent resistance against what they perceived as foreign impositions of secularism and immorality. The women embarked on vigilante raids throughout the capital to stop what they called “un-Islamic activities,” such as DVD vendors, barbershops, and a Chinese-run massage parlor. The Lal Masjid incidents draw attention to a fantastic fear of today's times: veiled Muslim women who engage in abrasive, anti-American, pro-Pakistan political action to their death. This chapter analyzes the media coverage of the Lal Masjid event to elucidate how media narrations and visualities function as mechanisms of power that discipline subjects across national borders, resolidifying notions of dangerous nations and paranoid citizenship. It identifies representation as a key mechanism for protecting borders, albeit one that is neither always consistent nor neat. It argues that the United States, as a hetero-normative nation, relies on, benefits from, and eroticizes (repressed) female terrorists. Conceptualizing the Lal Masjid women as erotic nationals, the chapter demonstrates that these women both transgress and reaffirm geopolitical borders and gender/sexual borders. It considers the possible ways to read these women as agentic and resistant even as they engage in the perpetual reenactment of the very roles that construct their gender domination.

Keywords:   Muslim women, Lal Masjid, Red Mosque, siege, female terrorists, Pakistan, militant women, media coverage, borders

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