Access and Accessibility: Disability is Not a Metaphor
Disability has functioned historically to justify inequality for disabled people themselves, but it has also done so for women and [other] minority groups. That is, not only has it been considered justifiable to treat disabled people unequally, but the concept of disability has been used to justify discrimination against other groups by attributing disability to them.
- Douglas C. Baynton, Disability and the Justification of Inequality in American History
Inequity is perpetuated by gatekeeping. Oppressive systems rob marginalized communities of opportunity and rhetoricity by reproducing harm in increasingly smaller circles, granting access to the few while cementing the fates of the other. As Stephen Winter notes in his discussion of transitional justice, “the account of political legitimacy does not rest upon belief and behavior but upon justification.” What justifies exclusion and blockading? How do we use illness and disability as cultural stand-ins for pity, shame, and the humanist drive to combat death?
This imbalance can be tipped by throwing open gates traditionally kept shut. In fact, we want to smash the gates. Marginalized voices shape discourse from the margins, and digital communications provide opportunities for advocates to craft an alternative narrative of sociality, community, and activism. This conference would like to examine accessibility along two intertwining forks: what is access; what is ability? What systems stymie social change, and how? Can we learn new methodologies by adjusting our historical lens? What can we do to see those who have been systematically erased?
Who and What We Want:
We invite ten-minute presentations in any format by students and scholars in any discipline interested in discussing access. This includes creative, performance-based, experimental, and multigenre presentations as well more traditional text-based presentations. We will provide guidelines for accessibility best practices and ask conference participants to follow these guidelines as you prepare your materials. For questions, please direct a message to email@example.com
Our goal is to develop panels across disciplines, locations, methodologies, and time periods.
We will prioritize submissions from sick and disabled scholars that cite sick and disabled scholars.
We will also prioritize submissions from current students—especially those without conference experience, independent scholars, contingent faculty, artists, and other creative and scholarly tracks outside of the academy.
List of Possible Topics:
As a starting point, we imagine relevant submissions to include projects engaging with the following topics:
- Institutional culture (of education, healthcare spaces, business and industry, nonprofit spaces, etc.)
- Media, representation, censorship, including “cripping up”
- Disability/disfigurement as metaphor in critical theory
- Labor and disability
- Illness and disability in literature
- State surveillance and feminist security studies
- Barricades and borders
- Disfigurement studies
- Identifying and engaging with privilege (both visible and not)
- Austerity, health, and vulnerability
- Disability justice
- Chronic pain, illness, and medical humanities
- Ableism and higher ed
- Assistive technologies
- Disability poetics
- Crip theory
- Public cultures, transit, and services and disability
- Trauma studies
- Rhetoric of illness/disability
- Affect theory and cognitive studies
- Feminist science/healthcare studies, both historical and contemporary
- Access pedagogy
- Queer and LGBT+ studies
- Histories and canonical visibility
- Auto/ethnographies of pain, illness, disability
- Digital culture and identity
- Postcolonial and decolonial studies
Conference website: https://2020esaconference.commons.gc.cuny.edu/
Please circulate widely