Dec 5, 12:30: Tyler Zoanni, “Appearances of Christianity and Disability in Uganda”

The Disability Studies Workshop and the African Studies Workshop are excited to invite you to a co-sponsored workshop:

Tyler Zoanni

PhD Candidate, New York University

Department of Anthropology

Appearances of Christianity and Disability

in Uganda

With discussant Stephanie Palazzo

UChicago Dept of Comparative Human Development

Saieh Hall, Room 103

December 5th, 12:30-1:50

Light lunch will be provided


This paper considers how Christianity contributes to the appearance of cognitive disability in Uganda, a country with very high rates of disability and where Christian efforts provide the vast majority of disability care, housing, and advocacy. As a point of departure, I invoke Hannah Arendt’s notion of appearance as a way to thematize the importance of public display within Ugandan social life and the challenge that people with readily evident disabilities pose to Ugandan social aesthetics. The paper traces how cognitive disability disappears under the liberal logics that organize Uganda’s progressive disability laws and activism. Next, I compare the ways that Catholic and Pentecostal efforts sustain the appearance of cognitive disability, tracing their theological differences as well as their shared paternalism. My argument is quite simple: Even as Ugandan Christian paternalism in response to cognitive disability may appear deeply repugnant to a liberal vision of disability politics, it sustains a form of disability appearance that is otherwise not possible.

The article, to be read before the meeting can be accessed here:

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All Disability Studies Workshop events are free and open to the public. Unless otherwise noted, events this quarter will be hosted in Saieh Hall, Room 103.  (Returning participants, please note the new location!) Saieh 103 wheelchair accessible, though for navigational purposes, please note that it is on the west side of the building, down a long hallway (with a somewhat uneven tiled surface) from the accessible front entrance. An overall campus map is available here, and one focused on accessible entrances and exits to Saieh Hall is here. We are committed to making the workshop accessible; if there are accommodations that would be of use to you, please contact or

Contact Zoe Berman (, Shruti Vaidya (, or Matthew Borus ( with any questions or concerns.

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