John Paul Catungal

Assistant Professor

Relevant Degree Programs

 
 

Graduate Student Supervision

Master's Student Supervision (2010 - 2020)
Being and doing: interrogating dominant narratives of asexual kinship in an amatonormative culture (2020)

Taking a sociological approach grounded in intersectionality and queer theory, this thesis traces and investigates online asexual discourse and identity politics in order to critically investigate the way that asexual culture and Western culture more broadly understands the intersections of friendship, kinship, adulthood, and intimacy. Recognizing the ways that asexual discourse has uncritically taken up problematic nationalist, neoliberal, and racialized understandings of romantic kinship in its identity politics is necessary in order to shift asexual discourse from a respectability and visibility politics with the aim of neoliberal assimilation to a political consciousness that queerly reinterprets the role of sexuality in forming kinship. I begin by tracing the history of online asexual discourse, situating the importance of this specific online culture to asexual worldmaking in a North American context. Here, I situate asexual theory in the context of amatonormativity and compulsory sexuality and find that asexual struggles for public recognition and legitimacy often rely on a problematic respectability politics based on notions of biologized, racialized, and gendered normalcy. Next, I investigate the deep cultural entanglements of the sexual and the romantic, calling into question the ontological underpinnings of the Split Attraction Model by investigating the category of the ‘romantic’ as a culturally mediated, gendered, racialized, and classed historical construction. Here, I draw on philosophical work on the nature of romantic love and on the historical and political role of marriage, and on scholars of queerness from Black, Indigenous and Asian-American contexts to inform a decolonial and racially nuanced understanding of the SAM’s political underpinnings, noting how social control in the form of sexual romantic norms is exerted differently on gendered, sexualized, and racialized bodies. Finally, I ask what it means to practice nonsexual kinship, and how asexual/aromantic identity gets deployed in practice, drawing on the literature of polyamory to think through the difference between identity and practice. By tracing different examples of asexual/aromantic kinship practice that is not necessarily grounded in asexual or aromantic identity, I pose a new paradigm for thinking nonsexual kinship, opening asexual/aromantic kinship rather than identity as the grounds for thinking both asexuality and queerness.

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The politics of place on Lingit Aani: regulating settler space in Juneau, Alaska (2019)

This thesis looks at how settler-colonialism materializes through the conjoined city-making projects of image-making, tourism and homelessness regulation in Juneau, Alaska. Using the analytic method of haunting, I examine how these urban processes bring historical tactics of violence and erasure from the past into the present. By bringing literatures on settler-colonialism, place-making, and homelessness in conversation, I examine the urban boosterist imagining of Alaska as the Last Frontier as a practice of colonial violence and discuss how this imaginary produces conditions and practices of harm, particularly ones that target Tlingit people and place. I argue that this imaginary is positioned within a logic of elimination that seeks to undermine Indigenous ways of knowing and being on the land and seeks to further construct structures of settler hegemony in Juneau and elsewhere. The purpose of this project is to understand the relationship between settler-colonialism and the settler imaginary of place-making in Southeast Alaska. By specifically tracing these ideas through processes of unsettling in the city through the regulation of homelessness and the project of tourism, I identify how these explicit materializations of settler-colonialism in Juneau, Alaska are tied up in “imagining”. This project is about how settler space-making through the settler-imaginary is a specific tool of settler-colonialism that continues to produce Juneau and dispossess Tlingit people.

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