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Mere rejection of the biopolitical state reaffirms the colonialist policies that seek to wipeout indigenous populations

Smith 2015 [Andrea an intellectual, feminist, and anti-violence activist. Smith's work focuses on issues of violence against women of color and their communities, specifically Native American women. A co-founder of INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence, the Boarding School Healing Project, and the Chicago chapter of Women of All Red Nations, Smith centers the experiences of women of color in both her activism and her scholarship. Formerly an assistant professor of American Culture and Women's Studies at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Smith is currently an associate professor in the Department of Media and Cultural Studies at the University of California, Riverside.. "Not-Seeing." Feminist Surveillance Studies (2015): 21-38..//KHS]

As noted by many critical-race- and ethnic-studies scholars, the manner in which Foucauldian analyses of the state tend to temporally situate biopower during the era of the modern state disappears the biopolitics of settler colonialism and transatlantic slavery.1 Alexander Weheliye (2014) points out that Foucault’s conception of a complicated biopower is juxtaposed against a simpler “ordinary racism” (Foucault 1997, 128). As Foucault asserts, “I am certainly not saying that racism was invented at this time. It had already been in existence for a very long time. But I think it functioned elsewhere” (ibid., 254). Relegated to both a theoretical and geotemporal “elsewhere,” Foucault then provides no elaboration on the nature of this “other” racism.” As Weheliye (2014) argues, when biopower is rendered as the real racism, whose apex can be found in Nazi Germany, indigenous genocide, slavery, and colonialism disappear into given forms of simple racism that require no account of their logics. Similarly, Achille Mbembe argues that the mechanics of Nazi Germany are not fundamentally different from the “necropolitics” of the colony or the plantation in which “‘peace’ is more likely to take on the face of a ‘war without end’” (2003, 23). Denise Ferreira da Silva’s germinal text, Toward a Global Idea of Race (2007), also demonstrates that these forms of racism precede the modern state as Western epistemology is itself fundamentally a racial project. A focus on biopolitical racism as it is tied to the modern state thus often occludes analysis of the racial logics of settler colonialism and plantation slavery. Surveillance studies’s focus on the modern state similarly hides an analysis of the settler colonialist and white supremacist logics of surveillance that precede the ascendancy of the modern state. Furthermore, attention to these colonial and white supremacist logics of surveillance require a feminist analysis, since colonialism and white supremacy are structured by heteropatriarchy. For instance, Mark Rifkin’s When Did Indians Become Straight? and Scott Morgensen’s Spaces Between Us call attention to the heteropatriarchal nature of colonial bio/necropolitics. That is, the shift from categorizing native peoples within the U.S. polity according to their membership in distinct nations to lumping them together under the racial category of “Indian” is often understood as a colonial tactic. But what Rifkin and Morgensen demonstrate is that this categorization is dependent on heteronormativity. Since they pose a threat to the colonial order, native nations are broken up into heteronormative individual family units in order to facilitate their absorption into the colonial state. This absorption occurs through a colonialist surveillance strategy by which the sexual and gender identities of native peoples must be constantly marked and policed. Through this surveillance, native peoples become racialized “Indians” who are managed through the politics of biopower (Rifkin 2011). Of course, as racialized subjects, native nations still constitute a threat to the well-being of the colonial state and hence are never properly heteronormative. The United States continues to be obsessed with solving the “Indian problem,” whether through boarding schools or land allotments. But Indianization, as it were, allows colonialism to become a population problem rather than a political problem (ibid.). Native nations are seen as sufficiently domesticated to be administered through government policy, rather than seen as a continuing political threat requiring ongoing military intervention. In addition, as Driskill, Finley, Gilley, and Morgensen (2011) argue, native peoples are fundamentally “queered” under settler colonialism such that conquest is justified by their sexual perversity. Deemed “sodomites,” native peoples’ presumed sexual perversity justifies their genocide. Indigenous colonization is then achieved through sexual regulation, such as sexual acts of terror (the mass rapes of native peoples in massacres), as well as policies of normalization in which heteropatriarchy is instilled in native communities through allotment, boarding schools, and criminalization, among other contemporary forms of the surveillance and regulation of native peoples. As I have argued elsewhere, sexual violence was a primary colonial strategy by which native peoples were rendered inherently rapeable, and by extension their lands inherently invadeable, and their resources inherently extractable (A. Smith 2005a). Thus, contrary to Lyon’s assertion that “the focused, systematic and routine attention to personal details for purposes of influence, management, protection or direction” preceded the rise of the bureaucratic state, these strategies were foundational to the settler state that required the gendered reclassification of the people from various indigenous nations into “Indians.” As Patrick Wolfe (1999) notes, settler colonialism is a structure, not an event; that is, settler colonialism requires the continual disappearance of the indigenous peoples on whose land the settler state is situated (2). Consequently, these colonial heteropatriarchal logics continue. As Jacqui Alexander’s critique of the heteropatriarchal postcolonial state demonstrates, on one hand, the postcolonial state (or states that strive to be postcolonial) is imagined to be incapable of self-governance through its previously described presumed sexual perversity. It thus seeks to prove its ability to self-govern by continuing the colonial policing of supposed sexually perverse “nonprocreative noncitizens” within its borders to legitimate its claims to govern. In policing the gender and sexual boundaries of the nation-state by purifying it of imagined racialized and gendered contaminants, Alexander (2005) argues, the postcolonial state succeeds in obfuscating the permeability of its boundaries to multinational capital. This policing, structured under the logics of what Maria Josefina Saldaña-Portillo (2003) terms “aggrieved masculinity,” then serves to allay the anxiety of the postcolonial state and postcolonial aspirants in the wake of the postcolonial state’s feminization within the heteropatriarchal logics of global capital. While Lyon’s analysis points us to the surveillance strategies of the state, an anticolonial feminist analysis demonstrates that the problem is instead the state itself as surveillance strategy. Consequently, it is no surprise that states that have “decolonized” perpetuate the same surveillance strategies, because surveillance is structured into the logic of the state itself. That is, if we relocate the focus of surveillance studies from the bureaucratic state to the settler colonial, white supremacist, and heteropatriarchal state, we may then reformulate our analysis of surveillance. In particular, I would like to foreground the focus of the field of surveillance studies on “seeing.” According to Lyon, “Surveillance studies is about seeing things and, more particularly, about seeing people” (2007, 1). The “watchful gaze,as Lyon labels it, is what gives surveillance its “quintessential characteristic” (2007, 1). A focus on gendered settler colonialism would instead foreground how surveillance is about a simultaneous seeing and not-seeing. That is, the purposeful gaze of the state on some things and peoples serves the purpose of simultaneously making some hypervisible through surveillance while making others invisible. The colonial gaze that surveils native communities to monitor, measure, and account for their “dysfunctional” behaviors conceals from view the settler colonial state that creates these conditions in the first place. A feminist surveillance studies focus on gendered colonial violence highlights that which cannot be seen—indigenous disappearance.
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