Sima ShakhsariNov 10, 2021
Politics of Rightful Killing
Civil Society, Gender, and Sexuality in Weblogistan
Duke University Press 2020
In the early 2000s, mainstream international news outlets celebrated the growth of Weblogistan—the online and real-life transnational network of Iranian bloggers—and depicted it as a liberatory site that gave voice to Iranians. As Sima Shakhsari argues in Politics of Rightful Killing: Civil Society, Gender, and Sexuality in Weblogistan (Duke UP, 2020), the common assumptions of Weblogistan as a site of civil society consensus and resistance to state oppression belie its deep internal conflicts. While Weblogistan was an effective venue for some Iranians to “practice democracy,” it served as a valuable site for the United States to surveil bloggers and express anti-Iranian sentiment and policies. At the same time, bloggers used the network to self-police and enforce gender and sexuality norms based on Western liberal values in ways that unwittingly undermined Weblogistan's claims of democratic participation. In this way, Weblogistan became a site of cybergovernmentality, where biopolitical security regimes disciplined and regulated populations. Analyzing online and off-line ethnography, Shakhsari provides an account of digital citizenship that raises questions about the internet's relationship to political engagement, militarism, and democracy.
Sima Shakhsari is Associate Professor in the Department of Gender, Women & Sexualities Studies at the University of Minnesota. They are interested in transnational feminist theory, transnational sexuality studies, non-Eurocentric queer and transgender studies, Middle East studies, empire, militarism, neoliberal governmentality, biopolitics, digital media, refugees, diasporas, and political anthropology. They earned their PhD in Cultural and Social Anthropology at Stanford University and have held postdoctoral positions at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wolf Humanities Center and the Women’s and Gender Studies Department at the University of Houston. Before joining UMN, they were Assistant Professor of Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies at Wellesley College.
Sohini Chatterjee is a PhD Student in Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies at Western University, Canada. Her work has recently appeared in South Asian Popular Culture and Fat Studies.