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My Statement Regarding Ableism
Dr. Pushpa Parekh
As a scholar and professor specializing in postcolonial studies, and a woman of color with a disability, I have focused on the migrations and translocations of the postcolonial subjects and their multiple subject positions vis a vis race, ethnicity, disability, class, and gender. I consider ableism as forms of silence, absence, and appropriated discourses that negate, undermine or simply ignore the multiplicity and diversity of... voices, issues, politics and concerns, in global and transnational lines, specifically beyond the global North . While medical and legal discourses of disability pervade in postcolonial contexts, relatively few studies have explored humanistic perspectives and dimensions of disability in constituting, reassembling or deploying narratives and theories regarding postcolonial identities. My research and teaching goals are to fill these lacunae in cultural and literary study by focusing on disability as an identity issue as well as a category of analysis in postcolonial and diaspora literature.
In my works related to disability theorizing and reflections (2005, 2006, 2007), I undertake a cross cultural analysis from a disability lens to advance a critical examination of the intersections as well as divergences among academia, activism and lived experience. Disability is an umbrella term that includes wide-ranging physical, psychological, cognitive and developmental conditions, as well as socially constructed identities, and legally defined categories. Keeping this in mind, my focus is on understanding how engagements with disability have defined and redefined the concept, the subject category, experiential realities, conceptual paradigms, and have articulated challenges of individuals and communities.
In my analysis I consider academic developments in curricula, trends in research and scholarship on disability, and issues raised by disability organizations and advocacy groups, particularly as it relates to the global South. Moreover, I consider the historical and current phases in activist engagement that shift agency to peoples with disability demanding economic, institutional and political reforms, dismantling cultural stereotypes, and challenging physical and attitudinal barriers. My approach is to frame disability as intersecting with race, ethnicity, class, gender and nation. In my special issue on gender and disability, published in Wagadu: Journal of Transnational Women’s and Gender Studies (2007), I have articulated “postcolonial feminist disability theory and praxis” as a framework of intersecting theories, practices and discourses. I have revisited this critical and interventionist paradigm in my pedagogical practices in teaching postcolonial literature, and my professional research on race, gender, disability and postcoloniality. This paradigm has also been a framework of resistance to ableism in my daily, embodied experience of disability.
This album crhonicles the Kick off of My Ableism awareness project during Disability Awareness week at Spelman
Come join in solidarity with other Spelman sisters as we do our part to help make our beloved community a better place to live, grow, and learn. Make a video, Take the pledge, Send a tweet. Ableism affects us all.
Did You Know: Ableism can make it hard for someone to get a job, force students out of some universities and colleges, create social barriers, and make basic life tasks very frustrating, especially for disabled individuals who want to live independent, active lifestyles. This form of discrimination also highlights the difference between people with obvious physical disabilities, like amputees and people with hidden disabilities, like medical conditions which cause chronic ill-health without an outward manifestation of disability.