Queering Genocide as a Performance of Heterosexuality

Patrick Vernon

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Genocidal violence centrally targets the social bonds that hold communities together. In postcolonial contexts, it is well documented that social relations can be characterised by heteronormativity. Furthermore, postcolonial scholars have done extensive work on demonstrating the link between colonialism and genocidal violence. Responding to a gap in the academic literature, this article interrogates the relationship between (post)colonial heterosexuality and genocide. Seeing queer theory as also relevant to the study of non-queer individuals’ experiences, this article argues that postcolonial genocidal violence can be characterised by attempts to impede heterosexual group reproduction. Using the Rohingya Genocide in Myanmar as an illustrative case-study, it argues that the emergence, character and legitimisation of violence here depended on the construction of heteronormative subject-positions. Furthermore, it argues that genocidal violence reinforces the subject-positions it is rooted in, giving them the appearance of immutable facts. From this basis, the article concludes that postcolonial genocidal violence can be read as a performance of heterosexuality.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)248-279
Number of pages32
JournalMillennium: Journal of International Studies
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 12 Sept 2021


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