Politics of Rightful Killing

Civil Society, Gender, and Sexuality in Weblogistan

Book Pages: 312 Illustrations: 13 illustrations Published: January 2020

Author: Sima Shakhsari

Anthropology > Cultural Anthropology, Gender and Sexuality, Middle East Studies

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, 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 has crafted a superb account of the convergence of neoliberal governmentality, social media, and Iranian diasporic cultural productions. A critically compelling and rich narrative by a passionate and brilliant scholar, Politics of Rightful Killing is a significant contribution to the field of gender and sexuality studies, anthropology, and Iranian cyber studies.” — Minoo Moallem, author of Persian Carpets: The Nation as a Transnational Commodity

“A rich on- and off-line ethnographic account of what is now the artifact of techno-optimism and its post-9/11 deployment to promote imperial democracy. Sima Shakhsari's sharp analysis of rightful killing pursued in the service of freedom is a crucial addition to the biopolitical theorizing of gender, sexuality, and empire.” — Jasbir K. Puar, author of The Right to Maim: Debility, Capacity, Disability

"Sima Shakhsari's innovative new book is a welcome addition to… scholarship, and the most uncompromisingly pessimistic analysis of the politics of the Iranian internet to be published to date." — Alireza Doostdar, International Journal of Middle East Studies


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Sima Shakhsari is Assistant Professor of Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies at the University of Minnesota.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Acknowledgments  vii
Prologue  xiii
Introduction  1
1. Weblogistan and the Iranian Diaspora: Nation and Its Re-territorializations in Cyberspace  32
2. Civil Society (jaame'e-ye madani), Soccer, and Gendered Politics in Weblogistan: The 2005 Presidential Election  72
3. Whores, Homos, and Feminists: Weblogistan's Anti-modern Others  112
4. Weblogistan and Its Homosexual Problem  145
5. The War Machine, Neoliberal Homo Œconomicus, and the Experts 169
Coda. Revolutionary Ends: Weblogistan's Afterlife  195
Appendix  207
Notes  209
Works Cited  257
Index  277
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-1-4780-0665-7 / Cloth ISBN: 978-1-4780-0596-4