A Nation by Rights: National Cultures, Sexual Identity Politics, and the Discourse of Rights

By Carl F. Stychin | Go to book overview

7
Concluding Remarks

Although the national cultures that I have considered are diverse, there are a number of unifying threads that have emerged with implications for both politics and theory.


Tradition, Modernity, and the Nation

It has become apparent that same-sex acts and identities have frequently been deployed in the construction of national cultures. The homosexual is a particularly malleable subject position that has often been brought into the service of nations, especially in times of perceived crisis. We have seen in these studies how homosexuality has been associated with Communism, fascism, bourgeois capitalism, colonialism, the West and north, the east and south, environmentalism, Europe, and North America. In the project of nation building, homosexuality is a ready discursive tool that can be conflated with any enemy of the state, in the process becoming the enemy within.

This use of homosexuality has been exemplified by the colonial contamination model. In this guise, same-sex acts and identities are seen through the lens of colonialism, and homosexuality becomes a symbol of modernity, contrasted to a "traditional" way of life based on heterosexual marriage and strict gender roles that existed before the perversion of the colonial encounter. But the appeal to tradition is not limited to the postcolonial state. In the West, homosexuality is constructed as undermining traditional values and is associated with the urban, which, in turn, is assumed to be in decay and social decline. Nostalgia for a mythical past, which predates the emergence of a gay or lesbian identity, is invoked. The controversy over the Boston St. Patrick's Day Parade, for example, in many ways was grounded in an appeal to history, tradition, and nostalgia for a "simpler" time.

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A Nation by Rights: National Cultures, Sexual Identity Politics, and the Discourse of Rights
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Acknowledgments vii
  • Introduction 1
  • 2 - The Nation's Rights and National Rites 21
  • 3 - Righting Wrongs 52
  • 4 - Queer Nations 89
  • 5 - Eurocentrism 115
  • 6 - Reimagining Australia 145
  • 7 - Concluding Remarks 194
  • Notes 203
  • References 223
  • Index 247
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