Invasions: 'Othering' and the Social Control of Migrants, Cats, and Kudzu in Atlanta, GA

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Bunyak, Garrett
Winders, William P.
McDonald, Mary G.
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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” claims makers 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 point to Indigenous and feminist ways of thinking to help readers imagine other possibilities.
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