This thesis traces asexuality genealogically through a series of thematically organised case studies by mapping ‘asexuality’ between late 19th and 21st century medical and psychological works and socio-political movements. By problematizing existing works surrounding asexuality and their definitions, the thesis argues that asexuality has been placed under erasure by Western capitalist societies that have understood sex as a consumer object, and rendered asexuality or a ‘lack’ of consumption of (hetero)sex, as characteristic of ‘bad economic subjects’. The research draws on Foucauldian (2003) genealogy to illuminate ignored or erased historical instances of asexuality in relation to specific socio-political contexts. My themes of medicalization, pathologization and politicization are understood as Deleuzian (1987) assemblages, with asexuality being a trace of a node within these assemblages. The thesis argues that asexuality is in fact not definable at all, and that rather than defining what asexuality may or may not be, it is instead more useful to consider how the heterogeneity of asexuality might challenge broader understandings of sexuality in Western society. Through Deleuzian (1987) theories of the assemblage, asexuality is understood as something with an agency of its own, which moves through the assemblages of medicalization, pathologization and politicization interacting with other nodes and changing the shape of both the assemblage and asexuality itself. The work therefore provides grounding for potential future studies on invisibility, asexual ontology, and the range of ‘new’ emerging sexual subjectivities that have been largely understood as a product of Web 2.0 and networked societies.
|Date of Award||2010|