Bunyak Successfully Defends Dissertation on Migrants, Cats, and Kudzu in Atlanta

Georgia Tech Ph.D. Commencement Ceremony

Posted November 24, 2021

On November 12, 2021, History and Sociology of Technology and Science (HSTS) Ph.D. candidate Garrett Bunyak successfully defended his doctoral dissertation on Invasions: "Othering" and the Social Control of Migrants, Cats, and Kudzu in Atlanta, Ga. 

"Although the notion of an invasion traditionally referred to military incursions, the dissertation outlines how discourses of invasion have come to shape 21st century efforts to legitimize state sovereignty, control borders, and define citizenship," Bunyak wrote in his profile. "Invasions shows how such gendered and racialized discourses serve contemporary logics of profit, security, and white nationalism.  

Bunyak's dissertation committee included:

  • Bill Winders (chair), professor in the School of History and Sociology at Georgia Tech
  • Mary G. McDonald (co-chair), professor and Homer C. Rice Chair in Sports and Society in the School of History and Sociology at Georgia Tech
  • Jennifer Singh, associate professor and director of undergraduate studies in the School of History and Sociology at Georgia Tech
  • Allen Hyde, assistant professor in the School of History and Sociology at Georgia Tech
  • Robert Rosenberger, associate professor in the School of Public Policy at Georgia Tech

Read Bunyak's abstract below, and learn more about his previous research in our 2020-2021 graduate student timeline. Bunyak also taught HST 3008 Class, Power, and Inequality during his time at Tech and was named the HSOC 2020 Graduate Student Instructor of the Year. He will graduate in the fall 2021 Commencement ceremony along with Dr. Clifton-Morekis, who successfully defended her dissertation in July 2021.

Congratualtions, Dr. Bunyak!

Abstract

Invasion metaphors are today commonly used to describe immigrants, refugees, non-human animal and plant species, viruses, and even ideas. Despite the varied and widespread use of invasion narratives within and between species, mainstream research has underrepresented potential connections and relationships between such narratives. In order to better understand the role of invasion metaphors, this dissertation draws on fields such as Critical Animal Studies (CAS), Ecofeminism, and Chicana Feminism while focusing on three case studies exploring the application of invasion metaphors to immigrants, feral cats, and kudzu in Atlanta, GA and surrounding communities. 

In the first case, I examine several competing narratives related to migration. In the second case, I explore the ambivalent ways deployed to manage and control feral cats. In the third case, I examine the history of the kudzu vine which covers millions of acres of land in the United States. I reveal the changing meanings U.S. scientific or “expert” claimsmakers have applied to this oft maligned vine. I conclude the dissertation by putting the cases into conversation with one another. 

The methods of analysis used in this dissertation are narrative and discourse analysis. The data analyzed included a wide range of representations collected from sources including interviews, corporate media, independent media, social media, academic literature, and websites. 

My analysis suggests invasion metaphors coarticulate to reproduce the inferiority and material exploitation of numerous “others” including migrants, nonhuman animals, plants, and all of “nature.” Further, the dissertation highlights the interconnected roles the state, market, science, and technology play in the social control of people, animals, and “nature” more generally. These findings not only shed additional light on such conditions, but perhaps more importantly help readers to imagine other possibilities. 

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Contact For More Information

Di Minardi

di.minardi@gatech.edu