Category Archives: Workshop Sessions

Neoliberal Geographies of Disability Debtscapes: Microfinanance and Non-Normative Embodiment in India

Dr. Vandana Chaudhry

Assistant Professor of Social Work and Disability Studies

City University of New York, College of Staten Island

October 10th, 12:30-1:50

Saieh Hall, Room 103

Light lunch will be provided.


In this article, Dr. Chaudhry examines the contradictory effects of solidarity lending from a non-normative perspective of disability embodiment, a perspective that has remained overlooked within scholarship pertaining to microfinance in geography and social sciences more broadly. Based on a multi-year ethnographic study of World Bank disability-oriented self-help group projects in rural South India, she shows how neoliberal governmentality operates by shaping rural spatiality, sociality and disabled people’s subjectivities in the interests of the market. Foregrounding understandings of disability as a spatial-relational construct, she makes sense of disabled people’s experiences as they navigate relational landscapes imbued with financialization. Finally, Dr. Chaudhry concludes by showing how disabled people challenge financialization through disrupting the neoliberal ethics of entrepreneurial subjectivity and creating new, multi-scalar configurations of political claims, solidarities, and radical dependencies.

Friday May 4th: Tonie Sandler “Emergency Response to People with Disabilities”

The Disability Studies Workshop is pleased to present:

“Emergency Response to People with Disabilities”

Tonie Sandler

Ph.D Student, Social Services Administration

Friday May 4th, 12:00-1:30

Rosenwald 329

Emergency first responders and clinicians frequently engage people with disabilities who are experiencing a behavioral crisis. High-profile tragedies underscore that such encounters can end poorly, even fatally, due to a myriad of preventable failures stemming from a general lack of training and understanding, unnecessary tactical force, and miscommunication or ill-advised organizational policies. Although specific successes and failures depend on specific context, police departments and other first responder agencies can prevent many tragedies by valuing de-escalation as a core principle and by imparting basic CIT time and distance principles over tactical intervention in the management of behavioral crisis.

This presentation will evaluate the current crisis intervention team (CIT) approaches widely used in the United States when responding to individuals experiencing a behavioral crisis. Next, I will draw on the case example of Chicago’s CIT to explore organizational, cultural, and policy obstacles to suggest practice implications to prevent adverse outcomes during these encounters.

There is no advanced reading for this presentation. Refreshments will be provided!

To receive updates about future events, subscribe to the Disability Studies Reading Group listserv here:, or check out our website:

All DSSG events are free and open to the public. Unless otherwise noted, events are hosted in Rosewald 329, which is wheelchair accessible. An overall campus map is available here, and one focused on accessible entrances and exits to Rosenwald here. We are committed to making DSSG accessible; if there are accommodations that would make our events more accessible to you, please contact or

Contact Sharon Seegers ( or Matt Borus ( with any questions or concerns.

4/13 Stephanie Ban ‘That Noisy Mess in the East Lobby’: Physical Accessibility at Chicago-Area Universities, 1970-1990

Stephanie Ban, BA Student in History

‘That Noisy Mess in the East Lobby’: Physical Accessibility at Chicago-Area Universities, 1970-1990

Rosenwald Hall 329

April 13th, 12:00-1:30

Light lunch will be provided

This project examines the history of disabled students and disability rights activism at the University of Chicago after the passage of Section 504 but before the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and contextualizes the protest within moments of activism at other universities like Northwestern and UIC, and within the broader disability rights movement. Using the lens of the 1983 protest staged by social work student Jeff Ellis and the Ad Hoc Committee on Handicapped Access, I argue that despite Section 504 having established regulations for physical access, these were largely ignored by the University, demonstrating that access was largely a concern of affected students and their allies, and that administrators thought of disability as an individual problem to resolve, rather than a facet of societal diversity. I argue that UChicago’s attitude toward access lagged behind that of public institutions such as UIC, but that it seemed on par with Northwestern’s, exposing more reticence on the part of private universities to prioritize physical access. Private universities like UChicago and Northwestern have always been slower to act, revealing an interesting trend with implications that private universities did not conceive of the “elite” and worthy student as disabled.

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

4/4 Raphaëlle Rabanes “Cobbling: Negotiating care in postcolonial rehabilitation”

Wednesday, April 4, 4:30-6:00pm. Rosenwald 329

The Medicine and Its Objects Workshop and 

the Disability Studies Study Group present:

Raphaëlle Rabanes (Anthropology, UC Berkeley/San Francisco):

Cobbling: Negotiating care in postcolonial rehabilitation

 with opening comments by

Prof. Michele Friedner (Comparative Human Development)

            How does a hospital become or fail to become hospitable for patients? What does neurological rehabilitation entail in a postcolonial hospital? This chapter investigates how patients and health workers in the rehabilitation of a French-Caribbean hospital form and cultivate therapeutic relationships, and navigate the constraints of the therapeutic landscape in which they live: the crumbling infrastructure of a public hospital facing financial pressures, as well as the history of colonialism and slavery that continue to weight on the present. In particular, it follows the hospitalization course of a woman who invoked a world of chariots, kings, and princes to negotiate effective relationships with her therapists. The creative relational strategies she implemented to transform the clinic into her “kingdom” reveal the chronic conditions and the racial dynamics she had do navigate in order to build therapeutic alliances with her health workers.

To receive the paper, or if you have any questions or require assistance to attend, email the MaIOW coordinator: Kieran Kelley (

To subscribe to the MaIOW mailing list, visit: 

For more information regarding the Disability Studies Reading Group, or for any other questions of concerns, please contact the DSSG co-coordinators Sharon Seegers ( or Matt Borus (

 To receive updates about future DSSG events, subscribe to the listserv here:

3/2 Shruti Vaidya Disability and the Indian Nation-State: Questions of Care and Recognition

Shruti Vaidya, PhD Student in Comparative Human Development

Disability and the Indian Nation-State:
Questions of Care and Recognition

Rosenwald Hall 329

March 2nd, 12:00-1:30

Light lunch will be provided

This paper attempts to trace specific instantiations of care made by the Indian state with respect to its disabled citizens. I’ll first be drawing attention to a state-authorized decision to perform hysterectomies on 11 mentally disabled women between the ages of 13 to 35 in a Government Certified school in Shirur, Maharashtra, India in February 1994. The reasons provided by the state, school, and medical authorities were to maintain “menstrual hygiene” and prevent “unwanted pregnancies”(Stree Kruti et al. 2).  The second example I will focus on is more contemporary and engages with the current Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, expressing his wish to shift the terminology used for disabled people, from Viklang, (disabled) to Divyang (divine) in 2016. I will juxtapose these instances of state action and articulation with demands emerging from the disability rights movement. Both the examples analyzed in the paper reveal that the Indian state through its acts of care patronize its disabled citizens, thereby reducing them to a position of non-citizenship. This is in sharp contrast to the disability rights movement which constructs the category “disabled” as political and advocates for their right to live a life of dignity, free of stigma and at par with other people(Mehrotra 70). The larger questions this paper will grapple concern themes of state, recognition, and the disabled identity and attempt to situate the analytic of care within these intricate and structural relationships in the context of India.

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

Stay tuned for our Spring quarter schedule!  If you are a UChicago grad student interested in presenting in the Spring, we want to hear from you! or

2/16 – Dr. Alyson Patsavas

Alyson Patsavas

Clinical Assistant Professor Disability and Human Development UIC

Thinking Disability Through Pain: The Logic of Accounting and The Possibilities of Crip Counter-logics

2/16 Rosenwald Hall 329 12:00-1:30

My talk presents research from my book project, The Logic of Accounting: Pain, Promises, and Prescriptions, which critically examines the discursive construction of pain and pain relief as a distinct cultural, economic, and political “problem.” I first interrogate how contemporary U.S. cultural discourses frame pain as simultaneously a unique medical condition (versus a symptom), a national crisis (first of pain and then of pain relief), and a personal imperative of self-governance and self-management (to overcoming the problem of pain). I detail the specific role that economic rationality plays in structuring these broader understandings of pain as costly—to the nation, community, family, and the self—which in turn frames both affective and material responses to pain. In doing so, I map out what I call a “logic of accounting for pain” as a means of connecting seemingly disparate discourses to the underlying rationality that conditions how we think and ultimately feel pain. Against this backdrop, I outline feminist, crip and queer interventions into this logic. In doing so, I use pain as a theoretical leverage point to further what I have called “cripistemologies of pain” or specific epistemologies built from the action and analysis embedded within critical disability perspectives and commitments to ask: what does it mean to think disability through pain?

Bio: Alyson Patsavas is a Visiting Clinical Assistant Professor in the department of Disability and Human Development at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). Her scholarship focuses on the cultural politics of pain, the cultural politics of health and illness, the intersections of queer theory and disability studies, and representations of disability in film, television, and popular culture. Her work appears in Different Bodies: Essays on Disability in Film and TelevisionThe Feminist Wire, Somatechnics, Disability Studies Quarterly, and the Journal of Literary and Cultural Disability Studies. Patsavas is also a writer and producer on the forthcoming documentary film Code of the Freaks that examines crip culture’s response to Hollywood representations of disability.

2/9 Chao Wang

The Disability Studies Study Group is pleased to present:

Chao Wang, Ph.D. Candidate in History
Christian Missionaries, Blind Converts, and Braille Literacy in China (1874-1911)
Rosenwald Hall 329
February 9th*, 12:30-2:00
refreshments will be provided
*please note non-standard time and date*

This paper examines braille communication in Late-Qing China through the lens of missionary education for the blind. It charts a transformation in the way China’s blind people were “rescued” by Christian charity from stigmas of poverty and illiteracy, and were reconceived as members of Christian community by their ability to read the Bible in Chinese braille (modu zifa 摩讀字法), an adapted tactile writing system first taught in missionary schools. William H. Murray (1843-1911), a Scottish Presbyterian and former Bible colporteur in Beijing, worked out a mandarin-based braille system and used it to teach both blind and sighted beggars to learn simple Chinese characters. After its initial success, Murray managed to open a private school for the blind (Beijing xungu xuetang 北京訓瞽學堂) in 1874 with the support of the Scottish Bible Society, and recruited many blind children from poor families. I argue that the institutional advocacy of Chinese braille not only challenged the norm of written Chinese (i.e. the blind and sighted sharing the same tactile-phonetic medium to read Chinese without learning its characters), but also provided a form of religious inclusion for both blind and sighted people. The paper thus contributes to questions of conversion, literacy and the institutional management of disability.

The article, to be read before the meeting can be accessed here (available starting 2/4):