- April 7, 2022
- 7:00 pm
- Online (PDT)
Disability is often described as a tragedy, a crisis, or an aberration even though 1 in 5 people worldwide have or will have a disability. Why is this common human experience rendered exceptional? Disability studies scholar Jennifer Natalya Fink argues that this originates in our families. When we cut a disabled member out of the family story, disability is viewed as a trauma as opposed to a shared and ordinary experience. This makes disability and its diagnosis both traumatic and exceptional.
Weaving together stories of members of her own family with sociohistorical research, Jennifer’s latest book, All Our Families, illustrates how the eradication of disabled people from family narratives is rooted in racist, misogynistic, and antisemitic sorting systems inherited from Nazis. By examining the rhetoric of genetic testing, she shows that a fear of disability begins before a child is even born, and that a fear of disability is, fundamentally, a fear of care. Jennifer analyzes these racist and sexist care systems, exposing their inequities as a source of stigmatizing ableism.
Inspired by queer and critical race theory, Jennifer calls for a lineage of disability: a reclamation of disability as a history, a culture, and an identity. Such a lineage offers a means of seeing disability in the context of a collective sense of belonging, as cause for celebration, and as a call for a radical reimagining of carework and kinship.
Join autistic Mestiza, critical educator, and disability studies scholar-activist Sara M. Acevedo for a conversation with Jennifer that challenges us to reconnect disability within the family as a means of repair toward a more inclusive and flexible structure of care and community.
Jennifer Natalya Fink is director of the Program in Disability Studies and a professor of English at Georgetown University. She is the author of 6 books and founder of the Gorilla Press, a nonprofit promoting youth literacy through bookmaking. Fink is the winner of the Dana Award for the Novel and the Catherine Doctorow Prize for Innovative Fiction, as well as a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award. First and foremost, she is a mother; the transformative experience of parenting her autistic daughter is the center of her work.
Dr. Sara M. Acevedo is an autistic Mestiza, critical educator, and disability studies scholar-activist born and raised in Colombia. She is an Assistant Professor of Disability Studies at Miami University in Ohio. Her formal training is in historical linguistics, action anthropology, and disability studies—and is an alumna of the Anthropology and Social Change PhD program at CIIS. Dr. Acevedo recently finished a three-year term with the Board of Directors of the Society for Disability Studies and currently serves on the editorial boards of Disability and the Global South: The International Journal and Ought: The Journal of Autistic Culture. Dr. Acevedo uses emancipatory research methods such as activist ethnography and collaborative research and draws from a variety of critical traditions, including plural feminisms, liberatory pedagogy, social movement theory, spatial analysis, geographies of disability, critical autism studies, queer studies, postmodern philosophy, post-humanism, and others. Overall, her work is rooted in anti-racist, anti-ableist, decolonial, anti-capitalist, disability justice praxis. Her activist research agenda focuses on grassroots disabled leadership, horizontal organizing, the politics of self-direction and self-governance, and the creation of liberated communities and autonomous spaces by and for neurodivergent people living at the intersection of other minoritized identities.
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Marcus Books is the nation’s oldest Black-owned independent bookstore celebrating its 60th year. Marcus Books’ mission is to provide opportunities for Black folks and their allies to celebrate and learn about Black people everywhere.