Critical Disability Studies

Laurence Parent

Critical disability studies considers how institutions, cities or societies 'dis-able' people systemically and socially as well as looking into how the body and impairment can critically be incorporated into the discussions of disability and disablement. While critical disability studies has had a major presence in the United Kingdom for several years, and the United States more recently, it is relatively new to Canada.  Traversing various domains, a few of the issues to be discussed include such questions as, What is critical disability studies? What are the distinctions between work on 'disability' and work on illness?  What are the conditions, both in and outside of the educational institution, that construct perceptions and actions of disability? How might technology be used to assist in social integration and change?  The working group will hold 6 meetings during the year. Faculty and students are welcome.

The team is comprised of an interdisciplinary team of scholars, students and creators from at least six different departments representing the Humanities, Social Sciences and Fine Arts: Communication Studies, Art Education, History, Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema, Educational Technology and Applied Human Sciences.  Our past and present research addresses the important contribution of a  critical and creative disability perspective- and disabled people-  to social, political, and cultural life. Together, we use the working group as a platform for the exploration of both inter and trans-disciplinary crossovers and points of disjuncture.

While our research comes from these intersecting domains and concerns, the working group is comprised of individuals who have so far been working in isolation from each other at Concordia. The working group meetings are a space, and dedicated block of time, where researchers, graduate, undergraduate students, community activists, and practitioners who are committed to critical disability studies, can meet to discuss their current research and develop ideas for future collaboration. Our working group, under the rubric and with the sponsorship with CISSC provides us with a means to overcome working in isolation to create a vibrant series of intertwined events – invited speakers, discussions of readings, presentations of our own work – that we hope will also amplify the on-going presence of a CDS network at Concordia.


Owen Chapman, Department of Communication Studies

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