UPDATE: Race, Ethnicity and Disability (9/15/04; journal issue)

full name / name of organization: 
Jennifer 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 studie

s 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/embodimen!
 t, and conve

rsely, 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

Queries welcome. Essays (5000-6000 words, MLA style) may be directed to either of the following by September 15, 2004: Jennifer C. James, jcj_at_gwu.edu or Cynthia Wu, cynthiaw_at_umich.edu.

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Received on Wed Aug 11 2004 - 14:42:04 EDT