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1 Introduction Radha S. Hegde The past decade has seen an internationalization of cultural studies scholarship and an emerging interest in interdisciplinary approaches to the study of globalization . Recent developments on the world stage, such as the global economic crisis , political violence, urban terror, militarization, and migrant flows, all reveal the complex interplay between economic, cultural, and political processes. Although issues of gender and sexuality are woven into these exigencies, the manner in which they come into public view demands critical attention. Circuits of Visibility is an attempt to create an intellectual space in order to engage with the gendered politics of visibility in the context of globalization. Gendered Subjects and Global Visibility Visibility, writes Foucault, is a trap. It assures the automatic functioning of power whose force lies “in a certain concerted distribution of bodies, surfaces, lights, gazes; in an arrangement whose internal mechanisms produce the relation in which individuals are caught up.”1 Following that logic, the gendered subject of globalization, far from being self-evident or transparent as often assumed, has to be situated within shifting formations of power. There is scholarly consensus that gendered categories being reproduced under transnational conditions need more nuanced research attention.2 Global flows of media technologies, migration, and the unfettered mobility of capital rework old logics of domination in new global forms. The subject of sexuality and cultural politics gets caught in the global crossfire, and the issues are no longer contained within national borders and local domains.3 The uneven formations of global cultures and their implications are a point of political and intellectual concern to scholars and activists alike.4 The essays in Circuits of Visibility track the ways in which gendered subjects are produced and defined in transnationally networked, media-saturated environments . Driving this production is the flow of capital, with its complex global infrastructure of commodities, resources, and bodies. Media technologies, systems of representation, and information networks constitute the circuitry that transport modalities of power, producing what Grewal and Kaplan term “scattered hegemonies.”5 Hence, transnational media environments serve as a crucial site from which to examine gendered constructions and contradictions that underwrite globalization. Globalization represents a complex disjunctive order 2 Radha S. Hegde that is clearly not captured by the popular rhetoric of easy fusion and smooth cultural transitions; rather, it is marked by jagged contours which can no longer be captured in terms of simple binaries that characterize center-periphery models .6 Taking this shift as a point of departure, the essays in this collection engage with debates about gender and sexuality as they are reconfigured in various parts of the globe. The rhetoric of securitization and the neoliberal marketplace are key registers through which gendered subjectivities are currently being defined, disciplined, and deployed across spatial and temporal boundaries. Since sexuality has historically played a central role in the ways in which dominant Western views on cultural differences are coded, sexual politics continues to be highly racialized in globality. In the context of global economic fluctuations and mobility, resorting to simple reductive binaries has become a paradigmatic mode of response to describe difference. These evocations, when layered within other political and economic assemblages and scripts, have material implications. As Joan Scott reminds us, the “ruses of essentialism, in whatever guises they come, ultimately perpetuate inequalities and militate against change.”7 How does the problematic of gender surface and morph within the space of transnational public cultures? Inderpal Grewal advances a persuasive argument for thinking about “the heterogeneous and multiple transnational connectivities that produced various meanings of the term global.”8 She cautions that a theory of connectivity should be historicized and include incompleteness, exclusions, and unevenness. To produce a gendered understanding of globality is to show how these absences and invisibilities are produced and sustained through mediated reiterations that cross borders and communities. In that spirit, by way of introducing the issues, let me offer a few examples drawn to highlight how particular types of gendered visibility are normalized within the asymmetries of transnational linkages. The Afghan woman, whose body provided the moral justification for the war on terror, stands out as the most enduring and iconic image of gendered oppression . Her abject body surfaces only to consolidate cultural differences in terms of a civilizational clash and set the stage for pastoral power of Western benevolence. Visually captured and circulated by the media, the gesture of recue and foregrounding of Afghan women as victims reinforces the superiority of the West. By default, the West is...


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