Publisher: Duke UP
Published: November 2017
ISBN: 978-0-8223-6892-2


In The Right to Maim Jasbir K. Puar brings her pathbreaking work on the liberal state, sexuality, and biopolitics to bear on our understanding of disability. Drawing on a stunning array of theoretical and methodological frameworks, Puar uses the concept of “debility”—bodily injury and social exclusion brought on by economic and political factors—to disrupt the category of disability. She shows how debility, disability, and capacity together constitute an assemblage that states use to control populations. Puar’s analysis culminates in an interrogation of Israel’s policies toward Palestine, in which she outlines how Israel brings Palestinians into biopolitical being by designating them available for injury. Supplementing its right to kill with what Puar calls the right to maim, the Israeli state relies on liberal frameworks of disability to obscure and enable the mass debilitation of Palestinian bodies. Tracing disability’s interaction with debility and capacity, Puar offers a brilliant rethinking of Foucauldian biopolitics while showing how disability functions at the intersection of imperialism and racialized capital.
Download the full book. Read an excerpt from The New Inquiry.

Forums on The Right to Maim 

Rethinking Biopolitics: A Forum on Jasbir Puar’s The Right to Maim” ed. SherAli Tareen, Political Theology Nov 2021.

The Right to Maim: Somatechnics of Violence, Race, and Disability,” ed. Holly Randall-Moon, Somatechnics, Vol 9 (1-2), 2019.

The Right to Maim: A Symposium,” ed. Alison Howell, The Disorder of Things, Nov 2018.

Jasbir Puar: From Terrorist Assemblages to The Right to Maim,” eds. Peter Coviello and Hentyle Yapp, October 2018.

Praise for The Right to Maim

“Scholars interested in disability studies, assemblage theory, queer theory, and biopolitics would benefit greatly from encountering The Right to Maim. In its foregrounding of slow debilitation over the notion of the exceptional event, it produces a much-needed triangulation of the disability/ability binary. Puar carefully articulates how racialization manifests within the global racial ontology as license to either disable or debilitate (or often, both), not only impacting subject formation but transforming black and brown bodies from excess in society into new sources of profit.” — Emily R. Douglas, Society & Space

“Jasbir Puar’s work in The Right to Maim is crucial to understanding not only that the nature of settler colonialism is genocidal but also how that genocidal nature operates.” — Fred Moten, Social Text

“Puar’s larger aim of calling attention to debilitation as an instrument of exploitation and control is a crucial contribution to efforts to understand the relationships between material bodies, the state, and capitalism.” — Nimrod Ben Zeev, Journal of Palestine Studies

“Puar’s attention to the body and embodiment among the various means of state power produces a text which is an invaluable companion to living, being, and resisting in the world. The attention to unraveling the claim that maiming is more tolerant or progressive, and demonstrating the mechanisms of value extraction in debilitation, are critical to understanding the produced assemblage of race and disability.” — Sharon Kelly, Somatechnics 

“The immense significance and originality of Puar’s book are undeniable, welcome, and invaluable.” — Stephen Sheehi, Journal of Middle Eastern Women’s Studies 

“The Right to Maim could be considered a paradigm-shifting work, particularly in the case of those disciplines that remain impervious to affective methodologies and epistemes. Not only does it contribute to existing debates within disability studies, trans studies, critical geography, and critical race studies – to name a few, it is another example of the success of assemblage as an analytical tool, since it is capable of putting in conversation seemingly unrelated events and bodies.” — Sabiha Allouche, Kohl: A Journal for Body and Gender Research

“The Right to Maim is a great gift to future scholars who should find in the book rich inspiration for further work. A fascinating intellectual agenda has been demarcated, and a prescient window into the politics of the colonisation of Palestine has been opened here.” — James Eastwood, Radical Philosophy