Saving the Security State

Exceptional Citizens in Twenty-First-Century America

Saving the Security State

Next Wave: New Directions in Women's Studies

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Book Pages: 336 Illustrations: 3 illustrations Published: November 2017

Author: Inderpal Grewal

Cultural Studies > Surveillance Studies, Sociology > Social Theory, Theory and Philosophy > Feminist Theory

In Saving the Security State Inderpal Grewal traces the changing relations between the US state and its citizens in an era she calls advanced neoliberalism. Marked by the decline of US geopolitical power, endless war, and increasing surveillance, advanced neoliberalism militarizes everyday life while producing the “exceptional citizens”—primarily white Christian men who reinforce the security state as they claim responsibility for protecting the country from racialized others. Under advanced neoliberalism, Grewal shows, others in the United States strive to become exceptional by participating in humanitarian projects that compensate for the security state's inability to provide for the welfare of its citizens. In her analyses of microfinance programs in the global South, security moms, the murders at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin, and the post-9/11 crackdown on Muslim charities, Grewal exposes the fissures and contradictions at the heart of the US neoliberal empire and the centrality of race, gender, and religion to the securitized state.


"[Grewal] expertly demonstrates how, whether via militarism or humanitarianism, with both always racialized, the exceptional citizen labors to uphold US empire and the exceptionalism that justifies and rationalizes it."  — Jennifer Kelly, Radical History Review

"In this book, Grewal captures—through her multidisciplinary engagement with the key features of early twenty-first-century American political life—something important and troubling about the odd state of affairs in which we find ourselves here in the post-9/11 digital age. . . . This is a bold, brave, and forthright book." — Tina Fernandes Botts, Hypatia Reviews Online

"[This book] deserves to find its way onto the reading lists of university departments for a variety of subjects. . . a tour de force." — Columba Achilleos-Sarll, International Feminist Journal of Politics

"This book is a carefully crafted volume, with most impressive documentation, a critical contribution that explains the pervasiveness of the 'security mom' and its complement, a fascist near-future." — Daniel Zirker, Australasian Journal of American Studies

"Saving the Security State is a fascinating, nuanced study of a topic that possesses an enormous amount of importance in contemporary society. ... Grewal’s focus on exceptional citizenship and American imperialisms at home and abroad make[s] this book exceptional." — Joseph Michael Gratale, European Journal of American Culture

“In this important book Inderpal Grewal shows how the idea of the exceptional American citizen has emerged to replace the exceptional state. The improvement of self and racial Others, the oldest colonial game, now comes dressed up in late twentieth-century feminist clothing, making feminism itself an imperial formation. Tracing the emergence of the exceptional citizen through saving and surveillance, Grewal highlights how empire today is made possible, as it always has been, through the operation of patriarchy.” — Sherene Razack, author of Dying from Improvement: Inquests and Inquiries into Indigenous Deaths in Custody

“This electrifying book makes a crucial contribution to feminist theory, the study of transnational capitalism, and the history of the security state. Thinking through the position of women and children, the construction of masculinities and patriarchy, and the complicity of certain forms of feminism, Inderpal Grewal offers an expansive, passionate critique of the United States as a global power. Timely, impressively researched, and brilliantly argued, Saving the Security State powerfully speaks to our moment.” — Melani McAlister, author of Epic Encounters: Culture, Media, and U.S. Interests in the Middle East since 1945


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Inderpal Grewal is Professor of Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Yale University. She is the author of Transnational America: Feminisms, Diasporas, Neoliberalisms and Home and Harem: Nation, Gender, Empire, and the Cultures of Travel, and coeditor of Theorizing NGOs: States, Feminisms, and Neoliberalism, all also published by Duke University Press.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Acknowledgments  ix
Introduction. Exceptional Citizens? Saving and Surveilling in Advanced Neoliberal Times  1
1. Katrina, American Exceptionalism, and the Security State  33
2. American Humanitarian Citizenship: The "Soft" Power of Empire  59
3. Muslims, Missionaries, and Humanitarians  87
4. "Security Moms" and "Security Feminists": Securitizing Family and State  118
5. Digital Natives: Threats, Technologies, Markets  144
Coda. The "Shooter"  185
Notes  205
Bibliography  261
Index  309
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-6898-4 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-6890-8
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