CFP: Race, Ethnicity and Disability (9/1/04; journal issue)

full name / name of organization: 
Jennifer C. James
contact email: 


Essays are invited for a special issue of MELUS on issues of physical,
cognitive, or sensory difference in U.S. multiethnic literatures. The
presence of disability studies in the humanities has created an overdue
awareness of disability as a legitimate and necessary category of analysis in
fields beyond medicine and the social sciences. The cross-fertilization of
disability theory with other modes of inquiry focused on the embodied subject
(such as queer theory and feminism) has produced an outpouring of provocative
scholarship that has furthered the understanding of those social, political,
and cultural practices that have kept seemingly different groups of people in
strikingly similar marginalized positions. This special issue seeks to
address the convergences of ethnic studies and disability studies in literary
scholarship. Essays should explicitly locate themselves within a disability
studies framework and engage with current debates in the field of disability
studies in their analysis of U.S. multiethnic literary texts.

Bodies that diverge from what is constructed as the U.S. "mainstream" have
continued to serve as sites for the contentious struggle over normalcy and
normativity. Groups labeled as the ethnic/racial "other" and those deemed
"disabled" have been victims of medical experimentation,
isolation/containment, and extermination; denied access to civil, political,
and human rights; made spectacle vis a vis a bodily-based visibility yet
negated through a socially-determined invisibility. While conversations have
begun to take place about the commonalities among those othered by race,
ethnicity, and/or disability, we hope to promote scholarship that examines how
the theories, methodologies, and concerns of cultural workers in the broad
fields of disability, ethnic, race, and immigrant studies might overlap and
converge. We also hope to elicit essays that explore the ways in which
marginal groups use literature and language to oppose oppressive notions of
bodies/embodiment, and conversely, how dominant groups have used the same
medium to circulate and confirm those same limiting conceptualizations.

We especially welcome papers pertaining to any of the following issues as they
manifest themselves in U.S. multiethnic literatures:

Disability and immigrant, diasporic, border, and/or transnational identities
Racial "passing"/hidden disability
Social/political mobility
Immigrants as socially/politically/linguistically disabled
Bodies and the law
Art and advocacy
Illness/AIDS/medical care
"Normalizing" medical procedures
Injury, war, veterans
Racial/ethnic bodies as congenitally and/or medically defective or diseased
Medicalization of difference
Freak shows
Violence, hate crimes
Disabled bodies in ethnic folklore
The racial/ethnic grotesque
Subjectivity and embodiment
Race/ethnic/disabled theory
Hybrid and/or cyborg bodies
Disability and narrative strategies

Essays (5000-6000 words, MLA style) may be directed to either of the following
by September 1, 2004: Jennifer C. James, or Cynthia Wu,

Jennifer C. James
Assistant Professor
English and Africana Studies
The George Washington University
W(202) 994-6630

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Received on Sat Feb 21 2004 - 00:02:41 EST