CFP: [Theory] "Human Rights and Disability" (MLA 2008)

full name / name of organization: 
Eden Osucha
contact email: 

Call for Papers: Session Sponsored by the Modern Language Association
(MLA) Committee on Disability Issues in the Profession, MLA Annual
Convention, San Francisco, Calif. -- December 27-30, 2008

"Disability and Human Rights"

In recent years, disability scholars and activists have increasingly turned
to the language of human rights as a framework for advocating and
understanding the ethical claims of the disability rights movement and the
aims of politicizing disability as a social justice project. For many, the
appeal of such an approach lies in large part with its explicitly inclusive
reach; for to speak of "disability rights" as "human rights" insists that
disability matters are universal concerns rather than "special needs."
Correlatively, this holistic and integrative approach to disability has
also been promoted by the international human rights community. For their
political project, incorporating disability under the rubric of human
rights consolidates a more robust and expansive framework for the politics
of "rights", as it reflects the postulate that, in the words of a 2002
report sponsored by the United Nations, "civil and political rights, on the
one hand, and economic, social and cultural rights, on the other, are
interdependent and interrelated."

This special session, sponsored by the MLA's standing committee on
Disability Issues in the Profession, invites papers that explore the
intersections of disability rights and analysis in terms of the political
language of human rights. We seek papers that historicize, theorize, or
chronicle this development in any national or global contexts. We are
especially interested in papers that consider the linkage of disability and
human rights as it implicates or is implicated in the contemporary critique
of the human rights political project as implicitly individualistic,
universalizing, Western, and colonial. Papers may address cultural
histories, legal discourse, critical theory, literature, visual culture,
public policy, and/or the academic profession. We are especially
interested in considerations that engage global concerns and would
additionally welcome responses to from feminist, queer, and/or postcolonial
theoretical perspectives.

Possible topics include:
-- the language of "disability", the language of "human rights"
-- disability-based response to the challenge of cultural relativism and
other critiques of international human rights project
-- representations of "disability rights" as "human rights" in literature,
art, performance, or film
-- disability rights in academic contexts
-- legal texts, such as treaties, constitutions, cases, etc.
-- disability and the construction of the human
-- conceptualizations of the post-human or non-human
-- issues of political and cultural praxis
-- transnational contexts and comparative approaches
-- cultural historical and critical legal approaches
-- discourses of "dignity" and "inclusion"
-- the critical/political limits of "rights" discourse (i.e., how "rights"
function as "norms")
-- human rights, civil rights, and citizenship

Please send abstracts of 250-300 words and a short (2 page) CV with updated
contact information by March 28 to: Eden Osucha, (Department of English,
Bates College) at:

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Received on Wed Mar 12 2008 - 15:29:53 EST