This special issue examines the stakes of orienting toward or away from disability as a category and as a method. Building on Sara Ahmed’s conceptualization of “orientation” as the situating of queer and raced bodies, the contributors ask how the category of disability might also change how we think of bodies orienting in space and time. Are all paths, desire lines, objects, and interpellations equally accessible? How do we conceptualize access in different spaces? What kind of theoretical and empirical turns might emerge in disorienting disability?
Drawing on feminist studies, critical race studies, and queer studies, the contributors probe the meanings of the term disability and consider disability in relation to other categories of difference such as race, gender, and class. Essays challenge the historicity of disability; push disability studies to consider questions of loss, pain, and trauma; question the notion of disability as another form of diversity; and expand arguments about the ethics of care to consider communities not conventionally defined as disabled.
Michele Friedner is Assistant Professor of Comparative Human Development at the University of Chicago and author of Valuing Deaf Worlds in Urban India. Karen Weingarten is Associate Professor of English at Queens College, CUNY, and author of Abortion in the American Imagination: Before Life and Choice, 1880–1940.
Contributors: Christina Crosby, Lisa Diedrich, Arseli Dokumaci, Michele Friedner, Cassandra Hartblay, Talia Schaffer, Margrit Shildrick, Karen Weingarten