Canadian Philosophical Association 2019

This page is an extension of a presentation given at the Canadian Philosophical Association in 2019. Here I will include resources related to, or extending from, the presentation, which did or did not appear in the presentation itself. One thing that disability research and lived experience have taught us is that ‘normative time’ constrains bodies and thought, and I think our discussions can and should flow over the limited budgeted time in the conference schedule, which restricts what and how we can articulate our ideas. You are welcome to email me with any further thoughts or questions in response to this page and/or the presentation.

Presentation outline: This presentation was given under the title “Disabling Inquiry: On Perishing and Other Disappearing Acts”. First, I discuss my understanding of ‘accessibility’, and the implications of that understanding for the presentation. Second, I offer reflections on three key terms: the pronoun ‘we’, ‘disability’, and ‘ableism’. These moves are meant to both background the remainder of the talk and to offer critical remarks on the use of the concepts. Finally, I build from this backdrop to question what it would mean to ‘disable inquiry’ in philosophy in resistance to ableist norms. In particular, what would it mean to notice, embrace, and lead with the perspectives and disruptions that disability creates within research and inquiry in the academic discipline of philosophy? I contextualize this question, and offer a few tentative answers.

Citation: If you’re interested in citing this talk, please contact me first, as this is a draft of other work. This will allow me to (i) provide you an updated version of any documents that are more appropriate to cite from than these admittedly sketchy materials, and (ii) direct you to other resources worth citing either alongside, or instead of this talk.

Land Acknowledgement: I am a white settler colonizer presenting about disability on the unceded territory of the Coast Salish Peoples, including the territories of the xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), Stó:lō and Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations. The land currently called Toronto on which I live and research is the traditional territory of the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation, the Neutral, the Anishinaabe, the Haudenosaunee, the Wendat, and the Huron Indigenous peoples. I also teach in what is currently called Scarborough, which is subject of the Mississaugas of the Credit Rouge River Valley Tract claim.

Presenting about disability on Indigenous land: This is not a talk about Indigenous mental health, and which does not spend extended time discussing Indigeneity. Why talk about land? I am committed to the idea that we* cannot think about disability and mental health isolated from colonialism, that we cannot ignore the ways that manufactured food crises, forced relocation, environmental violence, residential schools, forced adoption, employment discrimination and other strategies of anti-Indigenous violence at individual and structural levels have led to increased incidences of disability for Indigenous communities across Turtle Island (the British Columbia Aboriginal Network on Disability Studies [external link] estimates disability incidence at two times the general population, or at least 30%). We need to account for the ways in which Indigeneity has been historically connected to disability, especially in measures of intelligence, and how those connections served as a ‘justification’ for colonial intervention and violence. We need to think about ableism, which structures our understandings of what abilities are desired or acceptable in society broadly and academia more narrowly, and how often ableism works to exclude the many forms of Indigenous theorizings, ceremonies, knowledges, and ways of life among First Nations, Métis, and Inuit communities. We need to think about how focuses on place and accessing space in academic thinking about disability often ignore the lands on which those spaces sit, and how ‘access’ to spaces has been a strategy not only of inclusion but also of colonial occupation and displacement. And we need to think about any or all of this research is connected to colonial academic legacies of appropriating and colonizing Indigenous knowledges for profit and violence. This list is not and cannot be exhaustive.

I do not engage these issues in this presentation in more than passing comments, and that is a limitation of my presentation and my focus. If you’re reviewing these presentation materials outside the scheduled presentation, I hope that they can be reviewed with, through, and against this backdrop.

*Refer to slides on uses of, and identification with, the pronoun “we”.

Draft Note: The following posted slideshow should be considered a draft at best. Two of the main reasons for this are (i) that the direction of the talk may veer away from, or discontinuously through, these slides; and (ii) that there have been barriers to completing these slides to the degree I would prefer, and they may be missing information, citations, image descriptions. I will update these slides within ten days of the presentation to include the examples I offer verbally that do not already appear in the slides, and to make minor amendments. But this should nonetheless be understood as the start of inquiry rather than a finished project.

Downloads: The draft slides are available as a pptx (recommended for access) or a pdf.

References: A suggested list of readings, listenings, and other materials (both cited and not) will be posted here within one week of the presentation date.