Transformative Research Intersectional Collective

Research at the Intersections: Disability, Race, Indigeneity, Ethnicity

October 4, 2023

What does it mean to do genuinely intersectional research on disability, race, Indigeneity and ethnicity? Five scholars – Dr. Maile Arvin, Dr. Anna LaQuawn Hinton, Dr. Jina B. Kim, Dr. Julie Minich, and Dr. Lezlie Frye – explain their current projects and discuss their intersectional topics and methods in this panel discussion.


This event was hosted as part of the Transformative Intersectional Collective and was funded through a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.


Timestamp: 0:00 | DR. MAJD SUBIH:

I would like to welcome everyone to this webinar entitled Research at the Intersections: Disability, Race, Indigeneity, Ethnicity. This event is sponsored by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, whose funding supports the University of Utah’s Transformative Intersectional Collective (or TRIC). This event is also made possible by the Disability Studies program and the School for Cultural and Social Transformation at the University of Utah.

My name is Majd Subih, and I am a postdoctoral fellow in Disability Studies at the University of Utah. My pronouns are she/her. I’m an Arab woman with light brown skin, dark brown hair, and dark brown eyes. I’m wearing a red blouse and golden earrings, and my Zoom background is blurred. My research aims to spotlight disabled minority narratives by exploring the intersectionality of disability, religion, ethnicity, and gender.

I acknowledge that the land where I am, named for the Ute Tribe, is the traditional and ancestral homeland of the Shoshone, Paiute, Goshute, and Ute Tribes. The University of Utah recognizes and respects the enduring relationship that exists between many Indigenous peoples and their traditional homelands. We respect the sovereign relationship between tribes, states, and the federal government, and we affirm the University of Utah’s commitment to a partnership with Native Nations and Urban Indian
communities through research, education, and community outreach activities.

This event includes ASL interpretation: thank you to our interpreters for their work this afternoon. The event also includes auto-generated captions. This event is being recorded. A link to the video will be posted within a week or two on the University of Utah’s Disability Studies website. To find the page, go to “” and select “Disability Studies.” A corrected transcript will also be provided.

Before our panel begins, I would like to invite Dr. Ruma Chopra, the Dean of the School for Cultural and Social Transformation to share a few words of welcome. Dean Chopra, who joined the U in July, is a noted scholar of the American Revolution and American slavery and the author of three books, with a fourth in the works. We are delighted she could join us today. Dean Chopra.

Timestamp: 2:35 | DR. RUMA CHOPRA:

Hi, everyone. Thank you. Thank you so much, Doctor Subih, for your remarks. On behalf of the University of Utah and Transform, welcome to you all. I want to thank Dr. Angela Marie Smith, Director of Disability Studies, for creating what I know will be an enlightening and inspiring webinar. And thank you to our panelists for agreeing to be here and to share their knowledge with us.

I want to acknowledge the generosity, again, of the Mellon Foundation, which has provided three grants to our school that have–there’s no other word for it–been really transformative. The Mellon Foundation’s support has made it possible for the School for Cultural and Social Transformation to take a leading role in intersectional studies and to bring the work happening in this space to a broad audience. I am grateful for the Mellon Foundation’s attention to this vital issue and for our faculty engaged in this incredible
intersectional research.

Again, welcome. I’ll now turn back to Dr. Majd Subih.

Timestamp: 3:35 | DR. MAJD SUBIH:

Thank you, Dean Chopra. Today’s panel asks: What does it mean to genuinely do intersectional research on disability, race, ethnicity, and indigeneity? We are joined by five fabulous scholars. Each will make a brief presentation about their intersectional study in disability and race, ethnicity, or indigeneity. After their presentation, our panelists will discuss the challenges and possibilities of intersectional work. For the last part of today’s event, we will also take a few questions from the audience. At any point in the panel, you may submit a question to the Q&A. After it is answered, your question may be made visible to all attendees.

We will begin with introductions to the panelists in the order they will present.

Dr. Maile Arvin is an associate professor of History and Gender Studies and Director of Pacific Islands Studies at the University of Utah. She is a Kanaka Maoli feminist scholar and the co-host and co-producer, with Dr. Angela Robinson, of a podcast called “Relations of Salt and Stars.” Her first book, Possessing Polynesians: The Science of Settler Colonial Whiteness in Hawaiʻi and Oceania, was published with Duke in 2019.

Dr. Anna LaQuawn Hinton is an assistant professor of Disability Studies and Black Literature & Culture in the English Department at the University of North Texas. She has published on disability regarding constructions of Black motherhood, masculinity in hip-hop, spaces of incarceration, reproductive justice in literature, and African and Afro-Diasporic spiritual practice as technology. She is a disabled-queer-momma Black feminist, currently writing her monograph, Refusing to Be Made Whole: Disability in Contemporary Black Women’s Writing.

Dr. Jina B. Kim is a scholar, writer, and educator of critical disability studies and feminist/queer-of-color critique. She is an assistant professor of English and the Study of Women and Gender at Smith College. Her work has appeared in Signs, American Quarterly, and Disability Studies Quarterly, among others. Currently, she is at work on a manuscript titled Dreaming of Infrastructure: Crip-of-Color Writing after the US Welfare State.

Dr. Julie Avril Minich is Associate Professor of English and Mexican American & Latina/o Studies at the University of Texas at Austin. She is the author of Radical Health: Unwellness, Care, and Latinx Expressive Culture (forthcoming with Duke in 2023) and Accessible Citizenships: Disability, Nation, and the Cultural Politics of Greater Mexico (Temple University Press, 2014). She is the co-editor of Crip Genealogies (Duke, 2023).

Last but not least, Dr. Lezlie Frye is an assistant professor of Gender and Disability Studies at the School for Cultural and Social Transformation at the University of Utah. Their research concentrates on the cultural history of disability, race, and gender in the United States since the 1970s. Their forthcoming manuscript is entitled Domesticating Disability: Racial Disenfranchisement and the Birth of the Disabled Citizen. Their academic work is preceded by over a decade of popular education, performance art, and organizing work around disability, racial, and economic justice.

Now, I will turn it over to Dr. Maile Arvin.

Timestamp: 7:20 | DR. MAILE ARVIN:

Thanks so much for having me on this webinar. To describe my screen, my background is also blurred. I have long, dark brown or black hair. I’m wearing a gray suit jacket. What I have to share today is just a short excerpt from my current research on the history of institutions in Hawaii. In 1936, a young woman around the age of twenty – let’s call her Mary – appears in the bureaucratic records of the Hawaiʻi State Archives as a problem that officials had tried to solve through repeated transfers to different state institutions. Unfortunately, by 1936, Mary had been through every possible institution, and no one wanted her anymore, because not only did she keep running away, but she also incited other young women to do the same. This is a quote from a report: “One day, after attempting to help some girls escape, it was necessary to place her in seclusion because her resistance was of such a nature that we could not otherwise keep her in Waimano Home. The same day Mary was released from solitary confinement.” The report adds, “she attempted with another girl to overcome an attendant and to take her keys, so it was necessary to put her in seclusion again.”

Waimano Home for the Feeble-minded opened in 1921. Waimano was situated on 612 acres of Territorial government land overlooking Pearl City and Pearl Harbor on the leeward side of Oʻahu. Before the opening of Waimano, so-called “feebleminded” children, also referred to by the territory as “juvenile defectives,” would have been committed to the territory’s industrial schools – the Waialeʻe Industrial School for Boys or the Kawailoa Industrial School for Girls in Kailua. But as those schools became overcrowded and their superintendents argued that “feeble-minded” wards made their gendered “rehabilitation” of “delinquent” boys and “immoral” girls more difficult, they advocated for a specialized institution, which would become Waimano.

Mary had also previously been incarcerated at the Kawailoa Industrial School. When officials at Waimano reported that they no longer wanted to keep Mary, officials at Kawailoa did not mince words. They wrote: “We have had a lot of trouble with this girl, and we do not want her back in the Industrial School.” Waimano officials pushed back, citing Stanley Porteus, a psychologist at the University of Hawaiʻi, who claimed that Mary was not a “feeble-minded person,” and Dr. Eckert, Superintendent of the Territorial Hospital for the Insane, whose assessment was that Mary was “a psychotic personality, without psychosis,” whatever that means. No institution wanted Mary anymore, but the Board of the Waimano Home nonetheless insisted that “to turn her loose upon the public seemed to the board an impossible idea.”

Susan Burch uses the term “transinstitutionalization” to mean “the process of moving individuals from one variety of institution to another—as part of sustained containment, surveillance, and slow erasure,” which she argues is a potent type of “settler colonial removal.” Indeed, in the Territory of Hawai’i, a network of government-run institutions operated in concert to incarcerate and reform children and adults, punishing those who continued to flaunt relatively newly imposed White American norms about wage labor under capitalism and the sanctity of nuclear families within settler colonialism. I do not know what landed Mary in an institution for the first time. But odds are it was a perceived sexual offense – this is what landed the majority of young women there; anything from “associating with boys” to being pregnant out of wedlock.

When I started my current research project, I thought it was going to be about the history of one place: Koʻolau Girl’s Home, a later name for the Kawailoa Industrial School for Girls, where my tūtū (or grandmother) used to work in the 1960s and 1970s. This place held a lot of charm in my mother’s and aunty’s stories about it – they remember going to Christmas parties in the big gym on the campus and how nice the pool was. They remember the girls who were at the home as ranging from the merely kolohe (or mischievous) to the “really bad.” As I got further into the research and saw more and more stories like Mary’s, it made less and less sense to look at just one place. That is part of how the violence of transinstitutionalization gets covered up when we look at only one place or only one aspect of a story.

This history is not about bad girls. It is about how settler colonialism pathologized Native Hawaiians and other communities of color for caring for each other in ways that threatened the fragile settler colonial order. For instance, Native Hawaiians practiced forms of open adoption that extended the support for raising children beyond two biological parents. Traditionally, grandparents, instead of parents, often were primarily responsible for raising children. Today, this and other forms of hānai (or a certain kind of open adoption of children between friends or family members) are still regularly practiced.

As Susan Burch has also written in the context of the Canton Asylum for “Insane Indians” in South Dakota between 1902-1934, “the violence of Canton Asylum was collective as well as individual” and did (and continues to do) much to break a “fundamental tenet” of many Indigenous communities – that of “being a good relative.”

[Speaking with child, offscreen]

Similar to, and inextricably intertwined with, official explanations of the causes of “delinquency” and “immorality” described by staff and administrators at Waialeʻe and Kawailoa, the cause of “feeblemindedness” was understood to rest with the child’s family. Though “feeblemindedness” was generally understood as a genetic handicap that was hereditary and thus not always the intentional fault of a family, there was also a sense that the family was irresponsible for having children to whom such traits would be passed on. This was shaped by the fears mentioned above in relation to pregnancies at Kawailoa, about “feebleminded” women reproducing at greater numbers than average and dragging down the “racial stock” of the nation.

[Speaking with child, offscreen]

I’ll end there. I meant to write a conclusion and did not, and also, my kid is trying to write a conclusion for us! I’ll hand it over to Anna. Thank you.

Timestamp: 16:35 | DR. ANNA LAQUAWN HINTON:

Hello, and thank you for that. I’m grateful to be here on this panel. I’m presenting an excerpt from the manuscript that I’m currently working on.

I’ll start with a quote from Christina Sharpe from her groundbreaking work In the Wake: On Blackness and Being. And she writes: “The ongoing state-sanctioned legal and extralegal murders of Black people are normative and, for this so-called democracy, necessary; it is the ground we walk on. And that it is the ground lays out that, and perhaps how, we might begin to live in relation to this requirement for our death.”

So this evening, I want to consider what it means to constantly confront deathly violence against Black bodies, minds, and spirits in the streets and the archives, in the literature, and in our scholarly criticism. To focus on deathly violence against Black bodies significantly brings our attention to the afterlives of slavery, from the bullets and rapid snuffing out of Black life, to the slow dying that accompanies environmental racism and the slow–yet at times, rapid–speed at which Black bodies can die due to racist medical neglect. There is no denying that so much of Black life is marked by unremarked and unremarkable Black death. But what does this focus on Black death elide? What gets erased and overlooked?

There are many ways our collective fascination with Black death invisibilizes disability in ways that reify the ableist overlaying of premature death and disability. Thanks to the fastidious work of Black, disabled intellectuals and activists, more and more people are becoming aware of the deathly danger the state poses to Black people with disabilities. Many of the victims targeted for violence have been disabled, such as Deborah Danner, who had a mental disability when she was killed.

We also know that encounters with State violence can cause disabilities. Bullets by police paralyzed Jajuan R. Henderson. I worry, however, that this new attention to the disabled victims of police murder will perpetuate the equation of disability and death in the popular imagination. Before Elijah McClain was killed, he enjoyed music and animals and was neurodivergent. Randy Cox still has many years left living that can be wonderful as someone now paralyzed. Without dismissing the gravity and necessity of bearing witness to and fighting against the climate of anti-Blackness that reproduces Black death, I also want to make space for celebrating Black crip aliveness. Black crip survival.

So, in chorus with a Black study, scholar Kevin Quashie, I want to engage with how Black text, and, to use his words, assume “black being.” And here’s a little more quote for context. He asks: “What would it mean to consider black aliveness, especially given how readily—and literally—blackness is indexed to death? To behold such aliveness, we have to imagine a black world . . . we have to imagine a black world so as to surpass the everywhere and everyway of black death, of blackness that is understood only through such a vocabulary. This equation of blackness and death is indisputable and enduring, surely, but if we want to try to conceptualize aliveness, we have to begin somewhere else.” And I say, let’s let that somewhere else begin with crip survival.

In the larger chapter, I talk about this in terms of technoscience. Specifically, I’m hoping to put conversations about Black spiritual practice in with conversations about Black, disabled world-making and accommodations-making through the use of technology and science and disrupting the two. In part, I draw on Isiah Lavender’s contention that any kind of practical knowledge that helps Black people solve problems with their environment and in their society, abetting their escape from physical and psychological bondage and thereby allowing them control of their actions, qualifies as a freedom technology.

And because crip technoscience demands that we shift our understanding of the relationship between knowledge, the body, and the surrounding world in a way that requires reconfiguration of our common understandings of technological innovation, one divested of the classism that underpins so much ableism, I find it a precise term for Black spiritual practice. And I charge us to seriously consider the importance of the world and work of the spirit in our theorizing and analysis of Black being, and contend it is necessary if we are going to discuss Black crip survivance. And to illustrate my point, I now turn to a very quick reading of Audre Lorde’s writing both for herself and her audience as an example of a crip technoscience that’s attentive to the spirit.

Lorde extends the reach of her activism from one realm of existence into another, precisely by drawing on onto-epistemologies rooted in African-derived spiritualities. For Lorde, the world of the spirit and the inner landscape of our feelings are not mutually exclusive to our political lives but rather deeply imbricated and informative to them. And indeed, she mobilizes the erotic, as she theorizes in her essay, as a crip technoscience and her own transformative justice praxis of simultaneous world-destroying and world-building.

For this talk, I want to specifically focus on her work building communities—first, community with herself, and then community with others. After being diagnosed with cancer, Lorde faced an onto-pistemological crisis. She no longer understood herself as such, thanks to the loss of a limb–her breast–and her relation to others. At the same time, through reflection, she came to learn that it was a spiritual voice that led her to listen to her embodied knowledge that something was off about her body and heed its message. So, for instance, before she officially has her medical diagnosis of cancer, she already suspects it. And this is not to disparage those who do not, or have not, sensed changes in their health and therefore have dealt with the consequences.

Instead, it is to reposition this as an act of self-affirmation in a world that suspects and discredits ways of knowing about being, even one’s own being, and specifically this kind of knowing that Black, disabled people have. This knowledge, born from the pain of [Lorde’s] body, is a way in which she re-enters into a new understanding of herself. But [Lorde] also uses it as a beacon to join into community with others. Her writing, which others and myself identify as having the power of the word “nommo,” is what calls others, and she uses it to make herself visible. She also uses her writing to redefine and rearticulate what survival means. In this case, survival, she writes, is not simply surviving on the oppressor’s terms but instead, and I quote, “to define survival in a way that she cannot lose.” And she does this by drawing on these Africanist ways of knowing and spiritual practices. You see this in how, for instance, she gains comfort from her ex-lover, who visits her even after death.

Moreover, A Burst of Light is brimming with life, even as [Lorde] faces her imminent death. She talks about traveling, swimming, talking, and living. You see the example of how she maintains her life in the present and anticipates it in her activism into the future.

Returning to Kevin Quashie, I want to assert that Lorde’s writing assumes Black being both in this world and the next. Her experiences while sick and disabled were not erased or glossed over but held and affirmed firmly as being an aliveness in this world.

And I hand it over to Jina.

Timestamp: 24:30 | DR. JINA KIM:

Hi, everyone! Thank you so much for having me. Just to describe my screen, I’m a Korean-American woman with big gold-rimmed glasses and a kind of dip-dye, choppy haircut. I’m going to read an excerpt of the introduction of a book I’m currently working on, which is called Dreaming of Infrastructure: Crip of Color Writing After the US Welfare State.

When my best friend was diagnosed with stage 4 brain cancer in October of 2018, I found myself consumed by dreaming. More than any romantic partner, she was the person around whom I had anchored my life, the one who had first modeled for me the art of queer-of-color survival. With her diagnosis, I both dreamed of and mourned the future that we would never share. My dreams contended, also, with the lived reality of her illness and with the structures coordinating her medical care–the waiting room, the rehabilitation hospital, the social worker, her accumulating medical debt. My dreams contended with her repeated insistence that her cancer made her a burden to others, and because of this, she should be grateful for any crumb of support she received. I wanted so much more for her. In my grief, I found myself dreaming of other, more expansive arrangements of care that would render her less vulnerable to social isolation, debt, and care abuse. I found myself dreaming of a robust and free health/care system that does not harvest sickness for profit and does not treat disabled people as burdens. At the end of her life, I found myself dreaming of infrastructure.

I know, however, that as a queer and disabled Korean American woman, this dreaming is not allowed. Or, at the very least, it is not expected. As disability justice writer-activist Leah Lakshmi Piepnza-Samarasinha observes, “Sick and disabled and neurodivergent folks aren’t supposed to dream, especially if we are queer and Black or brown—we’re just supposed to be grateful that the ‘normals’ let us live. But I am the product of some wild disabled Black and brown queer revolutionary dreaming, and I am dedicated to dreaming more sick and disabled queer brown femme dreams.” Other writer-activists in the disability justice movement, such as Shayda Kafai and Talila “TL” Lewis, have similarly affirmed the centrality of dreamwork to projects of disability liberation. These writers situate disability politics within the long tradition of freedom dreaming, defined by Robin Kelley as the imaginative practice of “[producing] a vision that enables us to see beyond our immediate ordeals.” This, too, is unexpected because disability is so often seen as antithetical to freedom. In the popular imagination, we are bound: bed-bound, house-bound, wheelchair-bound. This narrative of boundedness takes hold even in many leftist, revolutionary, and political imaginaries, which have implicitly centered able-bodiedness in their visions of freedom. Here, disability is equivalent to dependency, failure, and neediness—something to avoid in the pursuit of liberatory futures.

This is a book about the dreamwork that disabled, feminist and/ or queer-of-color writers do to envision alternate infrastructural arrangements in a world and nation that has refused to support us. First and foremost, it asks: How can disability justice politics and aesthetics provide imaginative blueprints for navigating contemporary crises of care? While disability has often been cast outside the scope of racial justice and political liberation, this book demonstrates how writers such as Jesmyn Ward, Karen Tei Yamashita, Samuel Delany, and Aurora Levins Morales, who are all contemporary US writers, how all these writers bring disability and dependency to the forefront of their literary freedom dreaming.

The refusal of support, which I mentioned earlier, has assumed many forms, and I focus here on the eviscerated US welfare state, including social assistance programs such as Medicaid and supplemental security income. My anchoring event is the 1996 Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act, a piece of legislation known as major welfare reform. Over twenty years after Bill Clinton pledged to “end welfare as we know it,” the mythical threat of state dependents continues to animate the national imagination. Organized around figures such as the welfare queen, the undocumented or noncitizen immigrant, and the disabled non-worker, this myth conjures up the specter of needy populations, implicitly racialized and feminized, draining the American public of its hard-earned resources. Not only has this narrative crucially shaped contemporary US public policy, but also, as I argue in my book, the writing of women and queers-of-color who fought, theorized, and dreamed under the long shadow of Reagan.

Looking to feminist disability and feminist-of-color theories of interdependency, Dreaming of Infrastructure demonstrates how contemporary ethnic American writers recuperate the maligned condition of dependency. They do so through their imaginative engagements with civic infrastructure: education, sanitation, transportation, and health/ care. By drawing readerly attention to these networks, such texts emphasize our contingency on human and material infrastructures alike—the pipes, wires, roads, and labor networks that coordinate contemporary life yet so often go unnoticed. They thus invite, in the words of performance scholar Shannon Jackson, “an acknowledgment of the interdependent systems of support that sustain human beings.” Public infrastructure, in my project’s archive, thus becomes a key figure for articulating a counter-discourse of dependency—one that documents the disabling violence of state neglect while foregrounding public ethics of care.

So, in the interest of time, I’m going to go ahead and pass the mic to Julie.

Timestamp: 32:10 | DR. JULIE MINICH:

Hi, everyone! I am so grateful to everyone in today’s audience and to our hosts at the University of Utah. I’m Julie Avery Minich, and I appear on your screen as a White woman with thick glasses and red hair wearing a green and teal shirt with books in the background. I also wish to note that the University of Texas at Austin, where I am currently in my campus office, acknowledges the Alabama-Coushatta, Caddo, Carrizo/Comecrudo, Coahuiltecan, Comanche, Kickapoo, Lipan Apache, Tonkawa and Ysleta Del Sur Pueblo, and all the American Indian and Indigenous Peoples and communities who have been or have become a part of these lands and territories in Texas.

My presentation carries the title Radical Health: Unwellness, Care, and Latinx Expressive Culture, which is also the title of a book that actually just came out this week. Although I still don’t have copies of it [laughs]. As folks who have engaged in long-form writing know, it is incredibly difficult to think outside a research project when you’ve been enmeshed in it for years, so that is what I will draw from today. But with that said, my aim is to present to you the larger research questions that motivated the book, not the book itself, and to explore some questions that the book only begins to answer in a very partial and incomplete way.

We are currently in a moment when scholarship on race and disability seems to be flourishing. Where for a long time, scholars had lamented the persistence of what Christopher M. Bell famously called “White Disability Studies,” the past decade or so has seen the publication of texts by scholars like Sony Coráñez Bolton, Mel Y. Chen, Eunjung Kim, Akemi Nishida, Therí Pickens, Sami Schalk, Jess Waggoner, Cynthia Wu, everyone on this panel, and many others. But what I want to emphasize about this body of scholarship is not just the “new” or “urgent” nature of its topic but the way it demands new theories of race and disability. For instance, Pickens’s most recent book, Black Madness :: Mad Blackness, notes how a discourse of “mutual constitution,”–taken from intersectional feminist scholarship, has been brought into disability studies as a way to account for race with occasionally limited results–creating an illusion that “race and disability, announce themselves at the same time and… exert pressure in constant fashion.”

In fact, I argue that our work now entails attending not only to the consistency and coherency of racialization and disablement together but instead to the sites of incoherence and incommensurability that emerge when we attempt to think disability with race, ethnicity, and indigeneity. Rather than simply borrowing concepts like “mutual constitution” from other fields to fill in the cracks and fissures between disability studies and studies of race, ethnicity, and indigeneity, we need to consider what the cracks and fissures can teach us.

My recent work looks at the question of what it means for disability studies, a field often predicated on the rejection of a medical model or the refusal of cure, to address populations subjected to medical neglect. Moya Bailey and Isetta Autumn Mobley succinctly explain this problem: “While certainly, the medical model is a problematic trope, it may signal differently to communities that have tried for decades to receive the most elementary medical care, only to be refused.” In Latinx studies, I also think of the Chicana historian Natalia Molina’s powerful observation that health is “a site of racialization” and of the ways in which Latinx populations have been subjected both to pathologizing health interventions, like invasive health exams at border checkpoints, and to the denial of necessary medical care, like the Affordable Care Act’s exclusion of undocumented immigrants which subjects Latinx people of many immigration citizenship statuses to invasive and extraneous ID verifications while seeking healthcare.

To work at the intersections of Latinx studies and disability studies has meant, for me, finding a way to address both the discursive pathologization that produces race–which I believe disability studies, with its critique of medical models, does well–and the barriers to receiving medical care, treatment, and cure that racialized populations routinely experience–which is a place I believe disability studies requires ongoing work. Although here I would cite as an important intervention Eunjung Kim’s Curative Violence. Many of Kim’s readers have focused on the title of the book to emphasize Kim’s critique of cure, but the analysis in the book itself is a much more nuanced look at cure’s problems and possibilities–or what the activist Eli Clare calls a “grappling” with cure.

My most recent effort to address this theoretical problem is to offer the phrase “radical health.” My use of the word “radical” emphasizes the role of Latinx cultural workers, not in seeking to reform a broken healthcare system but in reimagining what health means and how health resources are distributed. In my book, I approached the work of contemporary Latinx cultural workers as a source of theoretical insight about disability, health, and well-being, as well as illness and unwellness.

I argue that these cultural workers advance a critique of health (as a punitive ideology used to devalue people whose bodily practices do not conform to social norms) even as they seek to claim it. For instance, as one concrete example, I consider how discourses on type 2 diabetes disparage Latinx foodways when they focus on dietary interventions (including macro-level interventions to address so-called food deserts, which still posit people’s diets as a problem to be solved) before looking to the poetry of ire’ne lara silva, an Austin-based writer living with diabetes. In silva’s work, the diabetic body becomes not the target of health interventions, but an object of love and a generator of art. silva urges her reader–imagined as a fellow diabetic–to learn “to listen/ to your body and your blood” and reframes the daily challenges of diabetic life as “the discordant notes/you must work into the score/making something more beautiful/than what was there before/not planned/not wanted but more powerful/ because it is truth.”

This is not an uncomplicated idealization of the body disabled by diabetes or a mere declaration of diabetic pride. Nor is it an embrace of medical treatment.

Rather, it is an affirmation of the agency of the diabetic person, who crafts a song from the discordant notes of illness and of the beauty to be found in lives deemed disposable and unworthy of care. I have no better way to end my comments today than with silva’s powerful words, so this is where I will conclude.

Thank you, and I will hand it off to Lezlie.

Timestamp: 39:50 | DR. LEZLIE FRYE:

Thanks, Julie. On-screen, I’m a White genderqueer with asymmetrical hair and glasses sitting in front of a shelf of book friends. And I’m here on Ute, Paiute, Goshute, and Shoshone land. Gratitude to y’all for sharing your research. It’s a pleasure to be here with you all, and your work forms the condition of possibility for my own.

I’m going to talk about a developing portion of my manuscript, Domesticating Disability, which focuses on the relationship between US disability rights and anti-Black policies of state violence. And, of course, this research is indebted to a growing number of scholar-activists who have attended to this specific movement-based intersection—Sami Schalk, of course, in her latest book Black Disability Politics, Leroy Franklin Moore and Susan Schweik are among them, and to other critical theorists who foreground the intersection of Blackness and disability moreover—and I’m thinking of Anna here, of course, Nirmala Erevelles, Therí Pickens, Kelsey Henry, and so many of their Black feminist predecessors.

This research is part of a broader effort to trace the legacy of US Disability rights through and against Black liberation movements, from Black civil rights to Black power. Disability rights is narrated almost unanimously as a direct, organic outgrowth of Black civil rights. And, of course, this history is quite contradictory and vexed, and the relationship between movements is at once spectacularly obvious and at times violently obscured. Through close readings of oral histories, ephemera, activist and scholarly articles, and monographs, I aim to critically reorient to the presumed origins of the US disability rights movement, focusing instead on the racial dimensions of the political trajectory it pursued.

In particular, I am looking at three discursive threads that cohere in the origin story of US disability rights that is repeated over and over and over again. First, narratives that frame disabled peoples’ history and lived experiences in terms of slavery. This is the post-ADA landscape imagined as plantation life for disabled Americans. Second, critiques of disabled segregation that hinge on claims of apartheid and incarceration. This is where disabled folks are imagined to occupy an American apartheid that is fundamentally structured by disability as opposed to, or in the absence of, race or an analysis of race. And third, the formulation of disabled subjectivity through analyses of colonialism. The cripple as negro is one example. Disabled folks analogized as the refugee at home or as the exile is another example.

These early articulations of the movement reveal constitutive failures to claim Whiteness, insistence on figuring disability as racially neutral, and the politicization of disability against, if parallel to, Blackness. This is not new, of course, it’s quite familiar. Disability justice activists and disability studies scholars alike have waged substantive critiques of such racial politics. And yet, their effects continue to resonate in foundational conceptualizations of the field. And there remains a real gap in contemporary social movement work, including the establishment of disability rights activism, that retains quite a bit of cultural capital at this time.

I return to this movement’s racial legacy, lingering there in search of evidence of the forgetting and the obscuring that’s happened and why it’s been so effective. I argue that sustaining focus on the politics of race, gender, and labor that animated early, influential White activist’s rights claims might produce some generative trouble and disperse our investments in how the history of US disability rights is told.

So White leadership of the burgeoning US disability rights movement of the 1970s and 1980s sought to make their struggle legible by deploying discourses of racial oppression, equality, and justice. And, of course, their goal was integrating disabled people into US Society. So, two under-examined racial politics continue to underwrite scholarly attempts to integrate disability into US historiography, and likewise, I would add, to make disability studies institutionally legible.

Yet when disability rights is narrated primarily as a marker of liberal progress alongside, or more frequently, following, struggles for racial equality, it is positioned against dominant regimes of power rather than complicit with them. Such analogies and comparisons between activist struggles for disability rights and racial equality tend to signal the eclipse of incommensurable struggles against racial injustice and anti-Black violence in the latter twentieth-century US. The existing historiography thus makes it impossible to see precisely how disability studies might have inherited or sustained broader investments in White supremacy, colonialism, and the related desire or impulse to consume the labor of racialized others. More importantly, it drains the more radical threads of Black resistance politics that animates disability rights. As a kind of promiscuous, perverse historian, I’m experimenting with feminist and anti-racist approaches to caring for the legacy of this social movement. I’m gesturing towards another genealogy of disability rights, one that exceeds celebratory commemoration of disabled people’s advancements, and necessarily centers legislative achievements and approximations of normative citizenship, attempting to sense crip pasts that don’t lend themselves very well to reclamation or pride.

I argue that Black civil rights and Black power—and thus the labor of Black activists, intellectuals, and cultural workers—were and remain an under-examined and under-compensated resource for articulating the parameters, needs, and desires of the US disability rights movement. This speaks to the dynamic of extraction rather than of benign synergy. I’m referring to the discursive and narrative work that frames Back liberation struggles as well as to the political and legislative efforts that were used in service of disabled Americans, but that arguably just consolidated that relationship between citizenship and Whiteness.

In other words, disabled citizenship was afforded in direct relation to undertheorized forms of labor, that of African Americans, whose collective efforts made such coveted legislative and political victories possible, their labor in giving shape to the story that could be told—then and now—about disability and civil rights and the labor of personal assistants, caregivers, and all those whose physical, mental, and spiritual work enabled disabled people to organize politically and that continues to sustain many disabled people’s lives today, crip theorists among them. The uses of this labor (the former two, if not exclusively care work) correspond with the historic exploitation of Black women’s labor in the United States. This is a resonance that deserves quite a bit more scrutiny when it comes to social movements. Whether that be about missed opportunity for coalition, but also how those movements tend to cohere in the institutionalization and of academic fields, such as disability studies.

So rather than read this movement’s history exclusively through the rubric of liberal progress, early articulations of US disability rights must be interrogated for their compatibility with the project of racial capitalism, which normalizes the consumption of black people’s uncompensated labor, the theft of black culture and thought, and the obfuscation of histories of anti-Black racism.

So I’ll just end with some nagging questions, three of them. If disability rights was indeed an outgrowth of Black civil rights and Black power, what intellectual and structural forms of accountability might surface from more sustained reckonings with its vexed relationship to Black liberation movements? By extension, what debt do disability studies practitioners sustain to Black radical politics and thought? And finally, what political possibilities, desires, or futures might come into sensation if our collective attention lingered on the racial politics of US disability rights historiography? And I’ll end there and turn it back over to Majd for some questions.

Timestamp: 49:00 | DR. MAJD SUBIH:

Thank you, Dr. Frye and our panelists. We will start with our first question. So much of the work described today speaks to the limits of the US nation-state as an organizing space, rubric, or site of identity. For example, there is some shared tension in relation to its constitutive logics and practices of White supremacy, settler colonialism, racial capitalism, and so on. Can you please speak to how your work engages with or offers counter-narratives to these projects or perhaps to any dilemmas or sticky places where you find yourself in any intellectual or political binds when it comes to the place of the nation-state in your scholarship?

Timestamp: 50:05 | DR. MAILE ARVIN:

I think there are a lot of ways that question relates to my scholarship. The institutions that I’m studying I see as a really important part of how settler colonialism happened and continues to happen in Hawai’i. But then, also, I liked the “sticky” part of your question because when I started this project, one of the initial arguments that I thought I was going to be making was that these institutions in Hawai’i share a lot of similarities with Native American boarding schools. And, indeed, they do.

But then last year, in May 2022, the US Federal Department of Interior issued a report on Native American boarding schools under Secretary Deb Haaland, which is the first-ever – I don’t know if it’s an admission of guilt exactly, but it kind of is. It’s a report that is kind of meant to set up some kind of process that allows the Federal Government to take some kind of responsibility for its role in boarding schools. And to a lot of people’s surprise, the report included several institutions in Hawai’i. It’s surprising for a lot of complicated reasons that we don’t have time to get into it now. But Hawai’i and Native Hawaiians have generally fallen under a different jurisdiction than Native Americans.

Anyway, all of that is to say that after that report came out, I was, like, “Oh, shoot, what does it mean that the Department of Interior has the same argument as I do about how these institutions operated as a forced assimilation project?” And I’m still thinking through that.

But it’s also opened up different kinds of opportunities for community engagement because, suddenly, a lot of people in Hawai’i are trying to understand what the report is saying and what the legacy of some of these institutions is in Hawai’i. Oddly, I was invited to come and present my research in front of Secretary Haaland when she visited Hawai’i, and she came to learn more about this history in Hawai’i. Anyway, I still find it odd that in some ways, even as I’m very critical of the settler colonial government and the history of these institutions since that report came out, I am oddly aligned with the Department of Interior in a small way.

Timestamp: 53:40 | DR. MAJD SUBIH:

We have one more minute if anyone would like to address that question. And now, I will jump to the second question:

There’s a rich collective interest in methodology in critical disability studies, with an emphasis on disrupting (racist, ableist, colonial) scholarly habits. Can you speak to how your methodological approaches reflect the intersectional nature and content of your work? Particularly given the artificial pressure to produce a novel method as a marketable “intervention,” what are some current methodological frameworks or processes you’re experimenting with?

Timestamp: 54:35 | DR. JULIE MINICH:

I can take this question on because it’s something that came up in my graduate seminar on Monday. We were talking about, particularly with literary and cultural studies, graduate students feeling a lot of pressure to find a theoretical method, or frame, such as crip theory and apply it to the text that we study.

We had a really rich conversation about the fact that art and literature by disabled people of color can constitute a theoretical frame in and of itself. And that sometimes our work, which is harder than it sounds like, for literary and cultural studies scholars to do, that our work needs to be theorizing, not applying theory to text, but allowing the theory to emerge from the text that we’ve studied. And this is not a new insight. I believe Barbara Christian talks about Black women’s literature as a form of theory. But it is really important to continue returning to this. Especially in cultural studies, there’s a disparagement of work that focuses on art itself and is seen as only being about close readings, when, in fact, taking art seriously as a theoretical intervention in and of itself can be some of the most important work that we do.

Timestamp: 56:20 | DR. ANNA LAQUAWN HINTON:

I’ll follow up on Julie’s statement, just because I’m working in a similar place. For instance, my work is largely rooted and founded in Black feminist theory. Which, as you so aptly point out, literary studies and cultural studies have presented the argument that creative and artistic work is a body of theory. I’m teaching a Black feminist theory course, both for graduates and undergraduates. Right now, my task to the students is not so much analyzing the work through theories but how to make sense of the work as theory and put it into conversation with other theories.

Where I’m at in terms of adding complexity and extending my methodology is how, especially in conversation with my pedagogical practices, where I am currently in Texas, is how to make space for my students in a way that is engaging and useful to then turn that theory into praxis, to apply to their lives, and particularly in a state where that kind of discourse and assignment-making has been legally prohibited.

What kind of outlaw, fugitive pedagogies and methods can I come up with to work and skirt around that? What’s already there? And in my practice of building my syllabus and making assignments and navigating those discussions, even how to do that is already there in the work. And it’s so enriching to extract these theories and methodologies from this body of Black, feminist, femme, and crip writing on how to have these discussions and build movement-building consciousness-raising.

Timestamp: 58:25 | DR. JINA KIM:

I’d also like to jump in if there’s time. I want to build on these comments and think about the political potential and theoretical potential of disability politics and art. And in my book, I–perhaps due to the artificial pressures right of having to come up with a method–which I acknowledge, have come up with this framework called “crip of color critique,” which is indebted to Julie’s work, the piece “Enabling Whom?”, my conversations with Lezlie, and, of course, [Aberrations in Black: Toward a] Queer of Color Critique by Rod Ferguson. Here I’m thinking about how disability, art, and politics, particularly written by women and queer people of color, can disrupt this kind of anti-welfare and pro-austerity narratives about who deserves care.

When I talk about dreaming of infrastructure, it’s about looking to art to think about this kind of rival social and structural arrangements that would allow for a just distribution of life-sustaining resources.

Another piece I want to talk about is [that] in this method I try to cultivate a spirit of generosity—sort of a nod to Eve Sedgwick’s reparative reading. To think about what is lively, useful, and generative about a piece rather than who we can critique and who we can tear down. Of course, critique is an important mode. But I often think that trying to be generous with your interlocutors and with literary works can be seen as naive or gullible. I think that there is still a tendency towards that. I’m trying to work against that, both in my method, but also in my interactions with my peers, my colleagues, my collaborators, and my students. Yes, trying to cultivate a spirit of generosity.

Timestamp: 1:00:50 | DR. MAJD SUBIH:

Thank you. Before we turn to our third question, I just wanted to remind the audience to please feel free to share any questions you might have for our panelists in the Q&A.

And our third question is: Who are your communities of accountability? Whether these are subjects of your study, shared ancestors, grassroots movements, predecessors, peers in your field of study, or other communities. How do you acknowledge or address debt to these communities, especially at a time of precarity for disabled people of color, both within and beyond the academy?

Timestamp: 1:01:35 | DR. LEZLIE FRYE:

And Majd, if I might add, Susan Burch’s question in the Q&A is related. “With gratitude for the brilliant, nourishing conversation,” Susan asks, “could you say more about the sources anchored to communities that shape your work and questions or opportunities that they spark for you as scholars and activists?” Two-part question.

Timestamp: 1:02:10 | DR. ANNA LAQUAWN HINTON:

I’ll jump in. First, having the opportunity to be in fellowship in a community, in spaces like this, holds me accountable in terms of Susan’s question, which is wonderful. There’s so much gratitude that I owe to the panelists that I’m on here with right now. I teach and cite Jina and Julie’s work ad nauseam, all the time. It’s been foundational. And even in my writing, I am conscientious about citational politics and practices. But I think the folks that keep me honest and keep me grounded are my students.

I am so very fortunate to be at an institution where I have students [who are] genuinely diverse. And because of the nature of the work that I do, I attract a lot of our queer, disabled, Black and brown students. Showing up for them and making space for them to share their experience, encouraging them to think more broadly and capaciously and critically. And not necessarily critically in the sense of tearing down, like you bring up Jina, but just intentionally, rather, about their bodies and identities, and also to make space to say, like, “Hey, Dr. Hinton, I don’t– this is my experience. It’s a little bit different. And I don’t know how this vibes with what we’re teaching, what we’re reading, what we’re discussing in class.” And so that, in a sense, real world material demands that they make of us as people who are living and experiencing complex lives, body, minds, and spirits.

And then, of course, my family and my ancestors. I don’t want work that does not resonate with them, that does not bode well with their experiences. And that all comes into my scholarship. I recognize that there’s a risk when we deal in fields that are “identity”-driven,” with being so explicit. And that really kind of recursive and discursive relationship between my and the community’s lived experiences and our theorizing and critiques, but it’s one that I think we do a disservice and injustice to if we’re not honest about that.

Timestamp: 1:04:40 | DR. LEZLIE FRYE:

I can speak to this one as well. Thanks so much, Anna. I find myself in a tricky position sometimes, speaking about US disability rights in a way that’s not exciting to people who are responsible for this movement or identified with it. The work didn’t come out of a desire to rehearse anti-Black racism in US disability rights, which is already quite well-documented, but actually to try to address some very pressing needs of contemporary social movements.

In particular, I found myself embedded in movements around domestic work in New York and California. The movements and activists that drew me into that research, organizing, and activism are one of my primary communities of accountability, doing that collaborative work to pass the Domestic Worker Bill of Rights. And as that work was going on, domestic worker organizers were working to mobilize all these different employer communities. They had really successfully mobilized the employers of nannies, getting folks to see themselves as employers in their own homes. They shifted their focus to help have disabled employers join forces with them, and this moment of deep tension kind of exploded in 2010, when some influential disability rights leaders, and in particular, some independent living folks, took this strong position of opposition against these bills and against some Federal protections for domestic workers. And this was a deeply disorienting moment for these organizers, that were, like, “We expected the anti-labor people and the anti-immigrant people, but disability rights? What’s going on here?”

This was a moment of trying to draw in these communities that are very identified with this experience of oppression, and don’t figure themselves as employers in the same way, and aren’t positioned as employers economically in the same way, given their relationship to the state and disability, etc. They’re addressing the ableism coming from domestic workers and the racism and anti-immigrant sentiment and sexism coming from disabled employers. I haven’t particularly been drawn to participate in disability rights myself, but this movement can’t just be thrown away. These folks have cultural capital, they have political power.

I feel like the method that you described around generosity, Jina, resonates for me in that there needs to be some way to care for the legacy of this movement in a way that doesn’t just write off folks that also have needs for care. How can we think about how everyone has needs for care and perform that research in a way that is collaborative? Or revisit that history? I’m looking back to this moment as a way to help understand how we got here to this place of deep tension. How can the colonial impulse and the desire to consume the labor of others that was woven into this movement’s history and trajectory be unveiled with the intention of coalition, of cross-movement solidarity?

Timestamp: 1:08:25 | DR. MAJD SUBIH:

Thank you. And I know Dr. Julie mentioned you wanted to also speak to that question as well.

Timestamp: 1:08:30 | DR. JULIE MINICH:

I just wanted to echo what Anna said about our students. Students are so important for us to think about right now. For Anna and I, in particular, working at public institutions in the State of Texas where any kind of DEI offices at universities and a lot of the support systems that students of color, students with disabilities, queer students have historically relied on to make our institutions livable, have been rendered illegal. But it’s an important question for all of us in the wake of the Supreme Court evacuating any kind of affirmative action. And I think that it’s really important. I just wanted to echo what Anna said and amplify it, about our students being a real community of accountability for us in this moment, with the changing landscape in higher education.

Timestamp: 1:08:25 | DR. MAJD SUBIH:

Thank you all so much. I’m going to hand it over to Dr. Frye for the audience questions.

Timestamp: 1:09:35 | DR. LEZLIE FRYE:

Hi, folks! So there are two questions. [One from] someone anonymous and [one from] and Adrian Rodriguez, that both have to do with art. This is directed at you, Dr. Kim, but anyone else can feel free to answer. “I’m so happy that the use of art as an integrated pedagogical approach was brought up. I’m wondering how the integration of music or dance and movement has played a role in the development of theory and practice with your respective roles?”

For reference, this person is a musical therapist, so finds “utilizing the arts as a way to uplift voices as integral a critical medium for advocacy and agency.” The second question from Adrian Rodriguez [is] related. “How does art critique as a method for imagining rival arrangements compared to other speculative methods? Or would you even see it as a speculative method?”

Timestamp: 1:10:35 | DR. JINA KIM:

I can take an attempt to talk about the question that was directed towards me. So, I would certainly say it’s a speculative method. I would say that a lot of the works that I examine in my book are speculative fiction. Or they engage in myth-making. So Samuel Delany is someone I engage. Octavia Butler is also someone I engage. Citing Anna Hinton’s wonderful work on Octavia Butler, as well. I looked at these works as evidence that the way infrastructure currently exists, the way that it currently distributes resources and determines who is eligible for care, are not the only ways that we might imagine systematizing the distribution of life-sustaining resources. And that they’re not the only ideologies of care and caregiving that exist. In my intro, I talk about the dream that opens up Parable of the Sower, about the protagonist’s mother dreaming of the lights that used to exist and talking about a great blaze of light that existed so long ago. And I interpret this dream as, again, a kind of disruption of the infrastructural status quo. What we have in this kind of dystopia that Butler is describing is not the only way of living life.

Samuel Delany’s Through the Valley of the Nest of Spiders also imagines this kind of infrastructural utopia. This separatist utopia for queer, gay, black men. And he kind of imagines this expansive sanitation and cruising infrastructure. For, like, piss play and thinking about the erotic potential of interdependency. So, I’m really thinking about speculative fiction as a place where these other types of blueprints for arranging the world exist. And as a provocation towards imagining our world otherwise.

Timestamp: 1:13:40 | DR. LEZLIE FRYE:

Does anyone else want to take up this question about art? Or should I move to the next one?

Timestamp: 1:13:45 | DR. ANNA LAQUAWN HINTON:

I can add to it. Because of my work and research in Afrodiasporic spiritualities, I think about the relationship between art and music and dance and movement and bodies and healing and methodology. In the work that I engage in and that I analyze, and in the cultural practices, the two are linked both in the sense of movement and arts, particularly dance and music. I also do hip-hop studies as a healing practice and think about healing as something parallel, perhaps to, but still altogether distinct from cure, but also as a method for theorizing and engaging what liberation looks like. So, for instance, I went to this excellent community performance called “Body Stories” a month or so ago. There were so many examples of local disabled artists using performance, specifically embodied art–voice, lack thereof, dance, play, skits–as a method for unpacking systems of ableism, misogynoir, and the realities of living in our current place of neoliberal late capitalism. I think what was most effective about it was that it did not rely on the academic and institutionalized discourse that we circulate in disability studies. It was a method of thinking about and through and with other bodies that could be self-contained outside of the institution. And so I don’t know if that answers your questions. But it was also a very healing space as well.

Timestamp: 1:16:10 | DR. LEZLIE FRYE:

Thank you, Anna. I’ll draw two questions together, both from anonymous attendees. Several people are asking about what it looks and feels like and what it means to practice, think, and methodologically work intersectionally. Particularly when so many of the institutions that we’ve named here, whether it be legislation, public schooling, health care, etc. are deeply invested in not thinking or operating intersectionally. This question might be linked to another one about archives.

It reads: “For those of you who draw on traditional archives in your work rather than the archive as a concept, what practices do you adopt to denaturalize the professional logic of the archive? Can we excavate marginalized voices in institutional records, or only their ‘ghostly outline’ to quote Stephanie Smallwood?” Archive question.

Timestamp: 1:17:20 | DR. MAILE ARVIN:

I could take the archive question. So yeah, a lot of my research requires me to go to the Hawai’i State archives and look at the official records of these institutions that incarcerated children and adults. And yeah, it’s rough. It’s rough to go there and look at those documents. And I think, yeah, I’m not sure there’s one thing to say about that, but I guess it’s important for me to recognize that. As I try to write my own thing about the history, just always finding ways to acknowledge that it’s a really heavy history, and the violence that was enacted at the institution is just very clear in the documents also.

In another way, in some of the documents you have to read against the grain and use your imagination to understand what’s not being said, but also, in the archives, I have found the voices of Native Hawaiian parents who are writing letters to the Board of Education to request that their children be released and I see a lot of those letters, especially in the very earliest period when they’re still being written in the Hawaiian language, and my guess, I don’t know if this is accurate, but my guess is that those letters continue to exist in the archive because nobody could read them, nobody could translate them.

Discoveries like that have been–not hopeful exactly, but what I am encountering in the research is that over and over again, Native Hawaiian families are being pathologized as unfit parents. It’s always been clear to me as a Native Hawaiian person who’s grown up in a Hawaiian family that’s never been true. That Hawaiian people love their children and are good parents. But I think, seeing all the letters from the parents in the archives kind of proves the point in a way that maybe other historians would believe. With this project, I’ve also just realized, I can’t just stay in the archive, and also those documents in the archive can’t stay only in the archive.

I’ve been trying to talk to people in Hawai’i, the institutions that I research, they are largely still standing. Although some of them have different uses. But the Kawailoa school that I mentioned continues. It never closed. And it continues to be a youth correctional facility today. It’s been important to me to build relationships with people who have relationships with these places and to just really talk to them about what I’m finding in the research and hearing what they think about it. Over the last year, I’ve put together a community advisory board of some key people who have deep relationships to these particular places. We’re working together to apply for some grants that would potentially provide funds to build a website about this history where we could digitize a lot of the documents that are currently available only if you go in person to the Hawai’i State archives. But also to think about some culturally appropriate memorials that we might build at the sites through extensive community engagement. I’ll stop there.

Timestamp: 1:22:00 | DR. JINA KIM:

I can try to answer the question about what it means to do intersectional research in institutions that often do not only not acknowledge intersections. And in the case of public schools, public universities in Texas are trying to actively make protecting marginalized students illegal. Returning to Kimberlé Crenshaw’s original formulation of the term, it’s a legal framework. And it emerged from the fact that anti-discrimination law itself could not handle intersections of identity. You could make a case for race-based discrimination or gender-based discrimination, but for those who were experiencing harm that was shaped by mutually constitutive experiences of race and gender, those instances of harm could not be legible within the law. So, the framework was formulated as a means of addressing a legal apparatus that itself could not understand mutually interlocking systems of oppression.

There are many answers to this question that I’m sure my co-panelists have thought about. But for me, one answer to this question is solidarity. In my work, I try to think about how anti-racist, anti-capitalist, and feminist disability politics can be and have always been in conversation. But also trying to resist the divide and conquer strategy that pits us against one another and has us fighting over an ever-shrinking pool of resources. For instance, ethnic studies and gender studies departments have been pitted against one another in what is essentially a false opposition and a manufactured scarcity. I think that solidarity, coalition, and coalition-building is a partial answer to that question. But I would also love to hear what my other panelists have to say about what it means to work intersectionally in this political moment.

Timestamp: 1:25:30 | DR. ANNA LAQUAWN HINTON:

I’ll jump in just because I’ve done some relatively recent work thinking about this in relation to some of the legislation that has passed here in Texas. Being a scholar where intersectionality is one of my primary methodological approaches, it also means serving as a bridge in any one space based on my work and my identities. I’m constantly being pulled into different spaces. Feminist spaces, women and gender studies spaces, LGBT, youth study spaces, ethnic studies, Black studies, and disability studies.

When I show up in those different areas, I become that bridge, to remind, and once again, thankful for the work of so many scholars in the field, to bridge these discussions in these issues and point out how they are interrelated, and how the solution to one set of social, cultural, and political exigencies depends on like you, said Jina, coalition and collaboration with others.

For instance, even with some of the conversations around CRT, reminding folks that when we talk about diversity, equity, and inclusion, we’re also talking about class, disability, and gender. And you’d be surprised how many students were like, “Wait, I didn’t know this was going to be impacted by this.” So being that bridge. But sometimes, being a bridge is hard, especially when life is so demanding.

To carry on with this metaphor, our infrastructure here in the United States is, [laughs] unkempt. And I feel that. I’m also very much aware of how exhausting it can be to do that labor, even going back to an anthology like “This Bridge Called My Back.” But I think that’s the key way. Making sure whatever spaces you’re invited in, you’re bringing the voices of those communities that hold you accountable in there with you.

Timestamp: 1:27:55 | DR. LEZLIE FRYE:

Before we close, I will add that the divestment from racial capitalism and White settler logics and practices around production and productivity is part of a project, that collaboration and independence in our scholarly and activist work is just so crucial. There are so many more questions, and I will name that one of them is about access and what it looks and feels like to make this work that we’re talking about accessible beyond academic spaces. But we don’t have time to dig in. So, I’m going to pass it back to Majd to close for us.

Timestamp: 1:28:30 | DR. MAJD SUBIH:

Thank you. As we conclude this event, we extend our gratitude to our panelists, our interpreters, everyone whose work made this event possible, and to all those attending. A reminder that a recording of this panel will be made available within a week or two. You’ll be able to find the link to the recording within a week or two by going to “” and selecting “Disability Studies.” We will also be creating a digital archive based on this event, which will provide materials related to our panelists’ projects and guidelines for accessible online events. So check our disability studies website for the archive in the next couple of months, and thank you all for joining us today.

Timestamp: 1:29:22 | DR. LEZLIE FRYE:

A big shout out to Angela Smith, who did so much access labor. [Clapping] Access work is work!

Thank you, Angela.

Speaker 1:

Focus Area: Transformative Research Intersectional Collective

Embed HTML not available.