Current research emphases: Bioethics, philosophy of disability, philosophy of medicine, social epistemology.

Silences in Narrative Health Practices: The relatively recent “narrative turn” (or perhaps “return”) in medicine and bioethics has generated new discussion on the relevance and importance of attending to stories for health and moral practices. While I believe that narrative and testimony are important for many of the reasons raised in these discussions, I think that uncritically centering narratives in our moral and health practices may miss or obscure the ways in which instances and structures of injustices often manifest in enforced ‘silences’, as well as the ways ‘silences’ are often deployed as strategies of communication, as self-protection, or as resistance to unjust and coercive epistemic and health practices. This dissertation project explores the different ways we discuss or undervalue ‘silence’, the practices and structures that produce or reproduce different kinds of ‘silences’ and exclusions, and the material consequences for health and healthcare.

Upcoming Presentations:

Disability, Evidence, and Policy: Reappraising Research on Restricting Student Laptop Use. Ethics of Pedagogy Speaker Series. University of Toronto Centre for Ethics. Toronto, Ontario, CAN. Accepted: Peer-reviewed. February 27, 2020, 4.30-6.00pm EST.

Abstract: How should we appraise pedagogical research when designing course policies? This workshop explores course policies that restrict student use of electronics, including so-called “laptop bans”. Many have argued that these policies impede flexibility in learning, and that they discriminate against disabled students and others for whom electronics can be important accessibility tools. In defence of these policies, many gesture to personal experiences and research which suggest that restricted-use policies actually support learning. In this session, we will survey some of this research and its limitations, including how the persistent exclusion of disability from study reports raises challenges to the apparent usefulness and persuasiveness of that research for inclusive policy design. Finally, we’ll turn from these specific policies to discuss general issues in appraising evidence, and the potential of designing Critical Appraisal Tools (CATs) for pedagogical research. [draft]

An invitation to you: I get to attend some conferences where academic researchers and health practitioners meet, and many of these events are inaccessible to the “broader public” because of things like their costs, location, academic jargon, restrictions on who gets to register, and other sources of inaccessibility. Where possible, I like to try to use my attendance to benefit others who cannot. One way I’ve been able to do this is to bring the questions and experiences of people who are unable to attend into my talks or into the Q&As of other presentations (and to share the answers I receive back accordingly).

If you have questions or perspectives that you would like to be raised in any of the events I’m listed as attending (such as questions for a particular presentation on a conference schedule), I am always happy to hear from you and to try my best to share them. You can send me an email.

And a note on context: My research and learning is grounded in dialogue and community conversation, and so I seek out conferences and events rather often. However, this is only possible through the material and community supports I have access to. The list here is meant both to provide a reference for people looking to reconnect after an event, and to give some more detail on my research. But I am also acutely aware of how this contributes to the pervasive culture of ‘productivity’ and overwork as a norm in academia (as academics’ personal websites often do in general), particularly among graduate and early-career academics, and how this serves to passively and actively exclude or disvalue many people and groups who do not have the same access to resources or opportunities. I hope that this comment can do at least a little work to contextualize these research activities while we remain critical of the structures and barriers around them.

Those interested in thinking more about academic norms in the context of disability in particular might wish to read more about the concept of ‘crip time’ such as in Alison Kafer’s 2013 Feminist, Queer, Crip (esp chapter one) or Ellen Samuels’ 2017 “Six Ways of Looking at Crip Time” in the open access journal Disability Studies Quarterly. I also recommend Margaret Price’s Mad At School which does well to discuss and interrogate norms around eg participation and productivity in the context of mental disabilities (esp chapters two and three).