Critical Disability Visibility: Interdisciplinary Praxis Toward Disability Justice

Speaker Series
Critical Disability Visibility: Interdisciplinary Praxis Toward Disability Justice

Organized by Sarah Hentges, Professor of Transdisciplinary Cultural Studies
Sponsored by the DEI Council (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) and WICCD (Women Invigorating Curriculum and Cultivating Diversity)

Each year our academic theme provides opportunities for students to more deeply engage in a topic and its related issues. This year’s theme of Disability Visibility inspires student engagement through the promise of an inclusive experience in a variety of ways. Students with both visible and invisible disabilities are often frustrated by their experiences at UMA—from their selection of “other” on disability accommodation forms to language that, for instance, asks everyone to rise for a specific ceremonial occasion. At graduation, students in wheelchairs are unable to cross the stage with their peers and neurodivergent students are often expected to conform to the learning experiences of inflexible professors. These experiences might not be much different than it is at other institutions, but at UMA we can do better.

Critical Disability Visibility: Interdisciplinary Praxis Toward Disability Justice provides an opportunity for students, faculty, staff, and administrators to learn from experts and engage in dialog toward a better understanding of the depth, complexity, and intersectionality of disability/ability and the work that has been done, and continues to be done, by disabled, queer, femme, and BIPOC leaders in the Disability Justice and Healing Justice movements.

“Minor Matters: Disabled Youth, Care, and Technologies of Shame”

Sarah Cavar, UC Davis

Tuesday, January 31
Noon to 12:50

Zoom link

This presentation will consider ageism/youth rights and disability and the politics of “dependence,” ownership, and subordination under an increasingly digitized neoliberalism. Cavar draws from a variety of examples that point to the effects of globalized, instantaneous social media and the scope of this exploitation, querying the “autism parent” social media account, the figure of the “mommy blogger/vlogger,” and the January 2021 Twitter “Bean Dad” phenomenon. Lastly, drawing on their ongoing work in the areas of transMad liberation, they will point toward possibilities for reclamation, reinvention, and resistance for Bean Kids.

Cavar is a writer, editor, and PhD student in the Cultural Studies graduate group. Their current scholarship explores trans(/)Madness, digital cripistemologies, and gender/diagnostic anarchism, among other ways of knowing beyond the psychiatric gaze. Informed by these interests, Cavar writes original poetry, prose, and hybrid writing. Their critical/creative writing can be found in Electric Lit, Bitch Magazine, Santa Fe Writer’s Project, and others, and published their most recent chapbook, BUGBUTTER, with Gap Riot Press in 2022. They are editor-in-chief at Stone of Madness literary magazine, and Founding Editor of swallow::tale, a Mad literary press.

“Care as Defiance: Re-Framing the Classroom as Mad, Queer Love Space”

Shayda Kafai, California State Polytechnic University, Pomona

Tuesday, February 14
Noon to 12:50

Zoom link

Care as praxis severs the oppressions that regulate us in the classroom; as seedling, as growth, care in the classroom creates generative, transformative openings. Framed as what the Queer Futures Collective calls “thoughtfeelings,” I explore how bell hooks’ lessons of care and love provided me with the frameworks to re-imagine the classroom Madly, queerly. I weave hooks’ rendering of the classroom as a place of freedom with Disability Justice principles, particularly sustainability, interdependence, and wholeness to ask, how might care as defiance reinscribe the classroom as accessible for all our bodyminds?

Dr. Shayda Kafai is a queer disabled femme of color educator-scholar-speaker committed to exploring the many ways we can reclaim our bodyminds from intersecting systems of oppression. Dr. Kafai focuses on disability studies, disability justice, queer studies, art-making, and body politics. She is also an art-maker with her partner, Amy Campos. Together they are the founders of CripFemmeCrafts, a body-positive, feminist/queer/POC/disability empowerment store.

“Raging From Inside: How Academics Can Dream Toward the Abolition of the Academy”

Helen Rottier, University of Illinois at Chicago

Thursday, March 2
Noon to 12:50

Zoom link

This presentation will examine what we know about academic ableism and explore the presence of “another university” as well as the prefigurative potential of dreaming strategies for learning, knowing, and sharing knowledge outside of academia. Attendees will gain short-term and long-term action steps towards dismantling academic ableism and connecting to the vital knowledges that have been shut out of our institutions.

Helen Rottier is a PhD candidate in Disability Studies at the University of Illinois Chicago (UIC). Her work focuses on academic access, ableism, and the experiences of disabled students and scholars in post-secondary education, with special attention to disabled knowledge production and dis-epistemologies. Helen is a research assistant and instructor in the Department of Disability and Human Development at UIC. She has a BS in Psychology and Gender and Women’s Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and an MS in Disability and Human Development from UIC.

“I Am Going Home!”: Abolitionist and Freedom-Making Practices in Dementia Units of Nursing Homes”

Hailee Yoshizaki-Gibbons, Hiram College

Thursday, March 23
Noon to 12:50

Zoom link

This presentation analyzes how temporality influences the care relationships between old women with dementia and the immigrant women of color employed to care for them in dementia units of nursing homes. Yoshizaki-Gibbons argues that old women with dementia and immigrant women of color care workers are engaged in freedom-making and abolitionist practices that “rage against the machine” by resisting and unsettling the dominant temporalities that constrain or restrict care. Specifically, the care dyad rejects a politics of isolation and disposability, which are key to carceral systems, by giving time to and making time for one another. These gifts of time represent a divestment from institutional and state power and control, and an investment in relationships, care, and community.

Dr. Hailee Yoshizaki-Gibbons is an assistant professor in biomedical humanities. She received her Ph.D. in disability studies with a concentration in gender and women’s studies from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Yoshizaki-Gibbons’s research employs an intersectional lens to examine the ways gender, race, class and immigration status mediate the lives of old and disabled people and those who care for them. As a scholar activist, Yoshizaki-Gibbons advocates for greater inclusion of old and disabled people, particularly those with dementia, in society.