Provocations in Critical Disability Studies

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Interdisciplinary Centre of the Social Sciences, Conference room

219 Portobello

Sheffield

S1 4DP

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Dan Goodley
Openings

This symposium brings together researchers to consider the current state of play and possible futures for critical disability studies. A number of presenters will be drawn in to develop a dialogue. First, drawing on findings from the ESRC Living life to the fullest project and a new paper written by, Rebecca Lawthom (Manchester Metropolitan University), Dan Goodley, Kirsty Liddiard and Katherine Runswick Cole (University of Sheffield) entitled ‘Provocations for Critical Disability Studies’ (to be published in the journal Disability and Society), Dan and Katherine will pose a number of questions of critical disability studies researchers including;

How might we attend to the study of ability and disability?
What is the purpose of disability theory?
How might we attend to the study of ability and disability?
What matters or gets said about disability?
Should disability be the object or driving subject of study?
In what ways can trans and critical disability studies work with one another?

A number of responses will be offered.

Tanya Titchkosky
The Crush of Bureaucracy
Tanya Titchkosky

Bureaucracy as the “rule by Nobody,” says Hannah Arendt, is particularly troubled by “those who did not keep the rules” – they become marked as the “asocial or abnormal” (Arendt, 1970: 38). Faced with those who do not to keep the rules, bureaucracies tend to make more rules which re-marks those who do not keep the rules. This is one way to begin to understand the fate of anyone who is categorized “disabled” in contemporary Western societies. This paper draws out the meaning made of disability as it is positioned as a primary category to name those who do not keep the rules of regular normative participation and who then become a primary target of further rule governed practices. I will show how disability studies can itself become part of these rule governed practices targeting disabled people. My interpretive analysis is a search for ways to dislodge ourselves from the crush of bureaucracy and from the crush we have on bureaucracy. Understanding, rather than improving the bureaucratic framing of disability is a way to re-orient to this crush that has violent consequences for disabled people.

Arendt, Hannah. 1970. On Violence. New York: Harcourt Brace.

Kirsty Liddiard
Why Disability Studies Scholars Must Challenge Transmisogyny and Transphobia
In this talk, Jen Slater and I argue the need for coalition between trans and disability studies and activism, and that Disability Studies gives us the tools for this task. Our argument rests upon six facets. First and foremost, we explicitly acknowledge the existence of trans disabled people, arguing that Disability Studies must recognise the diversity of disabled people’s lives. Second, we consider how the homogenisation of womanhood, too often employed in transmisogynist arguments particularly when coming from those claiming to be feminists, harm both non-disabled trans women and cis disabled women. This leads to our third point, that Feminist Disability studies must be anti-reductive, exploring how gendered experiences rest upon other social positions (disability, queerness, race etc.) Fourth, we reflect upon the ways in which Disability Studies and feminism share a struggle for bodily autonomy, and that this should include trans people’s bodily autonomy. Finally, we argue that Trans and Disability Studies and activism share complex and critical relationships with medicine, making Disability and Trans Studies useful allies in the fight for better universal health care. We conclude by calling for our colleagues in Disability Studies to challenge transmisogyny and transphobia and that transphobia is not compatible with Disability Studies perspectives.

Patty Douglas, Carla Rice and Katherine Runswick-Cole

Critical and Creative Engagements at the Intersection of Arts-Based Research, Critical Autism and Disability Studies

This talk will explore how critical engagements at the intersection of arts-based research, critical autism and disability studies can transform relationships with disability, ourselves, each other and the world. First, we describe our project Re-storying Autism in Education, an international arts-based research collaboration that brings together people who have attracted the label of autism with researchers, educators, artists and family members in multi-media storytelling workshops. Then, we share videos produced during phase one of the project by autistic and non-autistic participant-storytellers. Next, through a post-structuralist politics of critique and a new materialist politics of possibility, we pursue both how autism is constituted as deficiency in education and how we might re-story autism and embodied difference in less problem-saturated, anti-essentialist ways. Last, we consider how the collaborative project of re-storying autism at the intersection of the arts, critical autism and disability studies can build alliances and move education systems toward disability justice.

Title:“Why Blind Studies?: It's All Helen Keller's Fault and The Blind and Everyone Else Must Answer for It”
Presenters and Presentation titles:
Dr. Rod Michalko (University of Toronto): "The Ineffability of Blindness: Who Hears the Sounds of Blindness?"
Devon Healey (University of Toronto): "The Rhythm of Blindness"
David R. Anderson (York University): "The Invitation of Blind Memoir: Nature Reading Blindness Reading Nature"

Email correspondence: David R. Anderson, davidand@yorku.ca
Description: Blindness is often on the minds of all of us, including those of us who work, teach and learn in universities. For some, blindness is studied as a separate phenomenon by disciplines such as ophthalmology, rehabilitation, and special education; for others, it is but one more example of disability and is thus couched in the field of disability studies; and, for still others, few as we are, blindness is itself a source and a generative site of inquiry, one that we may call Blind Studies. This panel will engage with Blind Studies as both distinct from disability studies and as a provocation to it. What does Blind Studies provoke disability studies to think, to say, to do and, most importantly, to feel?

Rod Michalko will explore the ineffability of blindness, the urge and the impossibility of “speaking blind.” He will also pose the question of hearing blindness, orienting to its sound as it traverses the environs of everyday life. Devon Healey will address the rhythm of movement in the city. While de Certeau’s “sighted actors” write the script of this movement, they do not recognize that they havewritten it, let alone read it. Blind people, in contrast, read the rhythm through its feel as we move in the city together. This feel composes a togetherness that moves to a poly-rhythmic cadence in the city. This blind sensibility acts as a provocation for sight to feel differently the rhythm for which it is responsible. David Anderson will propose a provocative hypothesis that links Helen Keller’s famous memoirs of miracles and overcoming with current neoliberal discourses of individual resilience in what is now widely called the Anthropocene. He insists that part of our current eco-crip predicament is indeed all Helen Keller’s fault, but that within her memoirs—and in other contemporary “blind memoirs”—are the words and worlds we need in order to re-think, re-tell, and make possible different and better ways to understand our mutual vulnerability, loss, care, and kinship with more-than-human worlds in this time of ecological crisis.

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Interdisciplinary Centre of the Social Sciences, Conference room

219 Portobello

Sheffield

S1 4DP

United Kingdom

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