Communication, Disability Justice, and Surviving Ableism

Sponsor: Communication for Survival Spotlight Series
Thu, 11/14: 12:30 PM  - 1:45 PM 
Room: Holiday Ballroom 6 (Second Floor) 
This panel examines the centrality of communication practices to the pursuit of disability justice via anti-ableist scholarship and activism. Speakers will place communication and rhetoric scholarship in conversation with the growing field of disability studies and will apply communication theory to the cultural dynamics of activism, public debates, and popular media in relation to disability. James L. Cherney will argue that many of the premises and assumptions of ableist thinking, embedded in the rhetoric of texts not commonly associated with disability, perpetuate the discursive regime that generates this form of discrimination. Jennifer LeMuesurier will attempt to revise our understandings of genre theory to better account for how the embodied forces of disability impact rhetorical projects, making clearer how certain genres, e.g. inspiration porn, are not merely false representations but 'sticky' nodes that interrupt embodied epistemologies of disability. Beth Haller will describe how the U.S. entertainment industry's ongoing failure to hire disabled performers, thereby perpetuating inauthentic representation, is a form of aesthetic disqualification and disability oppression in the ableist media landscape. Drew Holladay will analyze how writing and media produced by disability activists seek to spur collective action on intransigent social issues using the commonplace of survival, using narratives of discrimination, neglect, violence, and death in order to transform public discussions that tend to foreground choice or personal rights as matters of survival. Lydia X. Z. Brown will address failures of "communities" and "movements" that purport to have radical, revolutionary, or liberatory values, objectives, and beliefs, but that in reality only perpetuate the same institutional and interpersonal violences that they ostensibly seek to disrupt, deconstruct, and dismantle.


Drew Holladay, University of Maryland, Baltimore County  - Contact Me


Lydia X. Z. Brown, The Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law  - Contact Me
James L. Cherney, University of Nevada, Reno  - Contact Me
Beth A. Haller, Towson University  - Contact Me
Drew Holladay, University of Maryland, Baltimore County  - Contact Me
Jennifer L. LeMesurier, Colgate University  - Contact Me


Communication for Survival Spotlight Series