Document Type


Publication Date



Massad’s thesis is simple, in fact, perfect in its simplicity. Empire is a terrible force that wants to penetrate, overpower and hegemonize. It has a center, a headquarters if you like, the West. It functions with two arms: capitalism (later neoliberal) and Euro-American hegemony. The first arm represents the objective drive of capital that transforms sites and cultures as it spreads the market in the shape of commodity exchange. It has become a universal system, Massad contends, though with varying effects on the center (West) from the periphery (rest). Whereas its march on the former has been totally transformative, in the latter, only so. In the center, not only has capitalism become the dominant mode of production, but it has also, following Foucault, witnessed the emergence knowledges/powers that have instituted categories, binaries, taxonomies, in short, epistemologies that were unknown in the pre-capitalist era. These epistemologies produced new subjects. One of those was the hetero/homo distinction in which people came to know their “hetero/homosexuality” as their most inner truth.

Publication Citation

Lama Abu-Odeh, That Thing that You Do: Comment on Joseph Massad’s ‘Empire of Sexuality,’ Al-Akhbar English, Mar. 25, 2013