Puar critiques intersectionality as the “primary rubric for theorizing difference” (p1 in pdf). Intersectionality defines an individual by the intersections of its differences based on gender, race, class, etc. What is problematic is that intersectionality continues to create and define differences, which remains in the discourse of subject and other-ing.
Then there are theorists who ask “how the body is materialized, rather than what the body signifies” (6). This is in the ontological framework of how we “be” (as Christina puts it). Representation is problematic. Instead, “bodies are unstable assemblages that cannot be seamlessly disaggregated into identity formations” (5). For assemblage, human and subject is not primary. Signification is not the only thing that defines something. It is the “variation to variation” of interactions; “matter is not a ‘thing’ but a doing” (7). Assemblage is not about the subject, it is about the “connections” (6).
In intersectionality, the action of intersecting has to occur between differences to create a subject. This action/motion/event of intersection is what links the theories of intersectionality and assemblages. However, this action creates only potential, not subject. We can’t keep creating subjects, so we’re trying to figure out the “pre-individual” or how matter/energies (ultimately) form a subject. I had to read this section a bunch of times: “the relationship of positionality to affect, feelings, and sensations is arbitrary” (10). It is arbitrary that I am “female”, there is no such thing as a “female” energy/feeling, but as events unfold, I become female.
Puar believes it is not either/or, either intersectionality OR assemblages, but that it is part of a process in understanding the relations between discipline and control. She is concerned about the “disciplinary subject and its identitarian interpellation” (10).
The full paragraph on page 11, to me, is a definition for socialization.
“Therefore, to dismiss assemblage in favor of retaining intersectional identitarian frameworks is to miss the ways in which societies of control apprehend and produce bodies as information…”
Whether it’s through signification, or affect, or a combination of both, our behaviors have been shaped by this way. We can call this practice a form of discipline, or it can be seen as a way of control. Who knows? Either way, it moves beyond the binary of intersectionality and assemblage.