Thursday, November 11, 2004

CFP: Society for Disability Studies (SDS) 18th Annual Conference, San Francisco, June 8-12, 2005. Also available on the official website of the Society for Disability Studies.

Breaking Silences: The Cultural Dialectics of Disability, Race, and Identity

Location: San Francisco State University, San Francisco, CA.

The San Francisco Bay area has long been a focal point of the disability rights revolution; the 504 sit-in and the development of the independent living movement are but two examples. While the disability studies community has begun to examine and celebrate that cultural history, we have neglected another crucial cultural component – the rich diversity of races and ethnic groups that make up the population of people with disabilities.

Disability shows us that identity is multiple and shifting; and so this conference seeks to begin to redress the historical ignoring of race – and people of color –in disability activism as well as scholarship.

The disability movements in North America owe an enormous debt to the African-American civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s. Despite this debt, the disability movements, including disability studies, have been dominated by white people. Why has this happened, and at what cost? These questions can produce even more complex answers when we consider race as a social construct that extends beyond the simplistic binary of white/black to also include those ethnic communities (e.g. Native Americans, Latino/Chicana, Asian, Arab, etc.) that have been marked as the racialized Other in a white dominant society. Critical examination of the contested terrain that haunts disability and racial cultural politics is the theme of this gathering of activists, artists, and academics. How inclusive is disability culture – really? Why are race and disability so often considered mutually exclusive categories? How can scholars and activists cross the lines of identity politics to forge productive new alliances?

SDS invites community activists and artists as well as scholars to submit proposals that engage questions of disability culture, race, and identity in a lively, critical, rigorous, and provocative manner. We invite proposals from scholars across the academy, including cultural studies, health sciences, policy studies, humanities, social sciences, and legal studies. We welcome all creative and rigorous scholarship in disability studies, including submissions based on the prompts below. We encourage work which makes physical, sensory, and intellectual access an integral part of the presentation.

· What are the different ways in which disability culture is defined, described, delimited, debated, and defended? Who gets to decide what the boundaries of disability culture are?

· In what ways is racial segregation apparent in the Disability Rights Movement, and why is disability the often-ignored discourse within racial politics? In what ways do territorial concerns over who represents disability and race play into the silence and separation?

· In theoretical contexts, what concepts are deployed by scholars in both disability studies and race studies that are distancing? For example, how do scholars in both areas critically engage normative notions of autonomy, rationality, and coherent subjectivities?

· What are the material consequences of experiencing multiple oppressions? How does the very idea of "access" become even more complex in an oppressively racialized and ableist society?

· Will placing race and disability in conversation with each other yield unique opportunities for deconstructing oppression in both academic and activist contexts?

· In what ways do issues of class, ethnicity, gender, and sexuality further complicate the possibilities of forging alliances across and within different groups who struggle against social, cultural, and economic marginalization?

Presentation Guidelines for Accessibility

Accessibility in presentations is central to the philosophy of SDS. Presenters are encouraged to explore ways to make physical, sensory, and intellectual access a fundamental part of their presentation. They should, at minimum, provide hard copy and large print hard copies (17 point font or larger), e-text versions of papers in advance of their delivery (for open captioning), and audio description of visual images and charts, as well as supplying summaries and handouts as necessary. Presentations should also be planned so that their delivery will accommodate captioning and ASL translation within time constraints. However, we especially encourage presenters to think about how implementing accommodations might be used to enhance and re-imagine traditional modes of conference presentation.

Guidelines for Submitting Proposals:

Proposals should include the following information:
1) Title of presentation, panel, poster, or performance;
2) Contact information: name, affiliation, mailing address, phone number, and e-mail for each presenter;
3) Format of your proposal:

___ Paper presentation (15-minute presentation)

___ Poster session (Posters will be exhibited at a special 90-minute session where authors will have an opportunity to meet and interact with conference participants)

___ Panel (90-minute block for presentation of 3-4 papers by presenters. Please note that panel proposals require BOTH an abstract that includes a 250-word description of the panel topic AND a 250-word abstract for each participant.)

___ Workshop (90-minute application of a specific program or exercise)

___ Presentation (literary reading, dance, video/film, etc.)

___ Other (we welcome inventive presentation possibilities)

4) Abstract (250 words) with the following: Title and author(s) or performer(s); explicit statement of the thesis, findings, or significance; description of content and structure; information on how this presentation will be made accessible; audiovisual requirements (please note we cannot guarantee LCD projection for presenters).

The deadline for proposals is December 15, 2004. We plan to notify participants of their acceptance by February 15, 2005. All abstracts will be fully reviewed and scheduled by the 2005 SDS Program Committee: Nirmala Erevelles & Jim Ferris, (co-chairs), Alicia Contreras, Ann Fox, Joy Hammel, Jesse Lorenz, and Alice Wong.

Due to many excellent proposals, SDS faces an increasing limitation on the number of presentation slots available at the conference. We ask that those whose papers are chosen, and who commit to attend the SDS conference, avoid last-minute cancellation of attendance if at all possible; this will almost certainly deny other presenters the chance to share their work.

Please submit proposals electronically (using MS Word) to both Susan Magasi, the SDS Executive Assistant, at, and Joy Hammel at

Questions about the conference program should be directed to Nirmala
Erevelles at or Jim Ferris at

If electronic submission is not possible, please mail or fax proposals to
arrive by December 15 to:

Susan Magasi
Society for Disability Studies
Dept. of Disability and Human Development
University of Illinois-Chicago
1640 W. Roosevelt Rd. (M/C 626)
Chicago, IL 60608-6904

Fax: 312-996-7743

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