What does ‘critical disability studies’ mean to you?

Well, in a (perhaps) trite manner this emerging approach to ‘disability’ means enough that you are making the effort to come along to the conference this week.  But more broadly, this question will linger throughout the day…and likely stick around well beyond the event.

The Keynotes will both be provoking a deeper level of engagement with the breadth – and depth – of potential for critical disability studies.  Have a look at the abstracts of their presentations and see what you think…

From geek to theory chick: Developing understanding(s) of psycho-emotional disablism

 Dr. Donna Reeve, Lancaster University

 In this paper I reflect on the intellectual journey taken during the time I studied for my PhD – complete with missed turnings and numerous mechanical breakdowns. I then discuss the impact that several different theorists have had on the way in which I have explored the concept of psycho-emotional disablism, showing the rich insights which interdisciplinary thinking can bring.  Finally I end by identifying some of the questions which face those of us in critical disability studies if our work is to remain relevant to the everyday lives of disabled people.

Donna Reeve is an honorary research fellow with the Centre for Disability Studies/Applied Social Science at Lancaster University.  Her research interests are psycho-emotional disablism and the complex relationships between disablism, impairment and identity. In addition to contributing to disability theory, Dr Reeve is also working to extend an awareness of psycho-emotional disablism into professional practice.

Dis/entangling critical disability studies

 Professor Dan Goodley, Manchester Metropolitan University

 I have been trying recently to articulate what could be meant by a critical disability studies approach. My recent book (Disability Studies: an interdisciplinary introduction, Sage 2011) and a forthcoming paper (with Helen Meekosha, ‘Critical disability studies: A review essay’, for Critical Sociology), account for this emerging trans-disciplinary space of theory, activism and practice through reference to a number of emerging analytical insights including theorizing through materialism; bodies that matter; inter/transectionality; Global disability studies and self and Other [1]. Many of these insights are developed further; by authors in a book I have edited with Bill Hughes and Lenny Davis (Disability and Social Theory, Palgrave McMillan, due late 2011). In this paper I briefly dis/entangle some themes of critical disability studies. While we may well start with disability I will suggest that we should never end with it as we learn from other transformative arenas including feminist, critical race and queer theories.

 [1] I would like to thank Rebecca Lawthom, Shaun Grech, Donna Reeve and Katherine Runswick Cole who have provided interesting feedback on the foci of this paper.

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