On the Future of Disability Lineage
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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.
Presented by CIIS Public Programs