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Theme 2020 SDS@Zoom

Troubling Binaries of Academics and Activism

Disability Studies arose from collective action that includes political activism and academic research and teaching. By reexamining the current perception of an academic/activist divide, Disability Studies can explore how fractures are created in coalitions and reframe them as growth plates. Disability activism and academia are interdependent and dynamic. The descriptors activism and scholarship are both ways of thinking and moving towards actions that manifest in a diverse array of webbed implications. Our 2020 conference theme asks participants to reexamine the construct and intentions of activism and scholarship, to trouble reductive and divisive binaries, and to identify collective ways of drawing nearer to an inclusive, equitable, accessible, and social-spatial justice for all, in particular for multiply-marginalized communities.

How are activism and study defined within academic and community spaces? What are the specific contexts in which people engage in “activist” and “academic” roles, including as artists, community organizers, scholar-activists, and activist-scholars? How can we generate understanding and sustainable growth out of the tensions engendered by the oversimplified construct of binaries? Who profits from this divisiveness, especially in today’s political climate? How can we collectively build a framework of interdependence within activism and scholarship?

Topics to explore under the SDS@OSU theme might include:

  • What are the histories of the dynamics between disability studies and disability activism? What are their roles and contributions?
  • How to decentralize Western scholarship and activism? How to engage with decentering the West during this 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act?
  • What are the relationships of disability academics/activism to disability services and gatekeeping?
  • How to address accessibility, create access, or implement radical access by working across the “academic/activist divide”?
  • How to center the contributions of the Disability Justice movement, while also recognizing the historical contributions of the Disability Rights movement and problematizing the relationships?
  • What are the critiques of how thought and action are related, and how they interact with perception and feeling?
  • to address the role of White Supremacy in disability studies and disability activism?
  • How could disability activism branch out without co-opting other forms of activism?
  • How is disability activism constructed within academic and community spaces? What could activism look like? How is Disability Studies constructed within academic and community spaces? What could DS look like?
  • What are the different forms of artistic activism? How are entertainment and activism intertwined? What are the possibilities in terms of outreach to the younger generation?
  • What are the tensions encountered by scholars who were activists first? By disabled academics who are still struggling for recognition and survival in academia?