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 (kierankelley@uchicago.edu

To subscribe to the MaIOW mailing list, visit: https://lists.uchicago.edu/web/subscribe/medicineanditsobjects 

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

 To receive updates about future DSSG events, subscribe to the listserv here: https://lists.uchicago.edu/web/subscribe/disstudies-reading

Spring Quarter Schedule 2018

We are excited to announce the Spring Quarter schedule for the Disability Studies CAS study group.  Note that we have room for another presentation or two from UChicago grad students who have not previously presented this academic year.  If you are interested, please write!

APRIL 4, 4:30 pm: Raphaëlle Rabanes (Anthropology, UC Berkeley/San Francisco): “Cobbling: Negotiating care in postcolonial rehabilitation.”

Co-sponsored with the Medicine and its Objects Workshop–note date at time!

APRIL 13, noon: Stephanie Ban (History, UChicago): “‘That Noisy Mess in the East Lobby’: Physical Accessibility at Chicago-Area Universities, 1970-1990.”

MAY 4, noon: Tonie Sadler (Social Work, UChicago): “Emergency Response to People with Disabilities.”

May 18, noon: Sharon Seegers (Comparative Human Development, UChicago): “Keeping Deaf Voice in the Center: How Deaf People and Ha Noi Sign Language Interpreters Prep for Advocacy Work”

To receive updates about future events, subscribe to the Disability Studies Reading Group listserv here: https://lists.uchicago.edu/web/subscribe/disstudies-reading, or check out our website: http://voices.uchicago.edu/disabilitystudies/meeting-space-and-access/

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 mgborus@uchicago.edu or sharons@uchicago.edu.

Contact Sharon Seegers (sharons@uchicago.edu) or Matt Borus (mgborus@uchicago.edu) with any questions or concerns.

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: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/0B1d482dTkFcoUXFGZ1JzNjlnYWs?usp=sharing

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!  Emailmgborus@uchicago.edu or sharons@uchicago.edu.

February 20th Dr. Akemi Nishida Coloquium

This Comparative Human Development Colloquium may be of interest to many of you!

Please join us on February 20, 2018, at Kent 120, for Dr. Akemi Nishida’s talk. There will be a reception at 4:30, with the talk starting at 5 pm. If you would like to meet with Akemi, please email Michele Friedner. Please forward this email to interested colleagues.

Title: “Interdependence and mechanism of respectability politics: Desiring toward being entangled in messy dependencies”

 Akemi Nishida uses research, education, and activism to investigate the ways in which ableism are exercised in relation to racism, cis-heteronormativity, xenophobia and other forms of social injustices. She also uses such methods to work towards cross-community solidarity for the liberation and celebration of community power. In her research and teaching, Nishida brings together disability studies, critical race theories, transnational feminist studies, and affect theory among others. Prior to joining Disability and Human Development and Women’s and Gender Studies departments at University of Illinois at Chicago as an assistant professor, Nishida earned her Ph.D. in Critical Social-Personality Psychology from the City University of New York.


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): https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/0B1d482dTkFcoUXFGZ1JzNjlnYWs?usp=sharing

Updated Winter Quarter Schedule

Our updated winter quarter schedule is below. We look forward to this excellent lineup of presenters!

All meetings are in Rosenwald Hall 329 12:00-1:30pm unless otherwise noted.  An overall campus map is at https://maps.uchicago.edu/, and one focused on accessible entrances and exits to Rosenwald is at https://maps.uchicago.edu/ada/mainquad/rosenwal.shtml

2/9 — Chao Wang, PhD Student in History “Christian Missionaries, Blind Converts, and Braille Literacy in China (1874-1911)”

2/16 – 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”

3/2 – Presentation: Shruti Vaidya, Ph.D. student in Comparative Human Development. Working title: “Care, Disability, and the Indian Nation-State”

Any materials to be read before the meetings can be accessed here: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/0B1d482dTkFcoUXFGZ1JzNjlnYWs?usp=sharing

Spaces are still available to present in Spring quarter, so please contact the workshop coordinators if interested.

Call for Papers: Chicago Disability Studies Conference 2018

DSSG is pleased to forward the following call for papers which may be of interest to many of our members!

Chicago Disability Studies Conference 2018

From the Margins to the Center: Disability Studies in Other Disciplines
April 20-21, 2018


Friday, April 20th, 9:00 am – 3:00 pm

at the University of Illinois at Chicago

& Saturday, April 21st, 10:00 am – 4:00 pm

at the University of Chicago

Keynote Speaker: Karen Nakamura

Professor of Anthropology
University of California Berkeley


Organized by:

UIC Disability and Human Development Student Association &

University of Chicago Organization of Students with Disabilities


Disability Studies has radical potential to revolutionize other fields of study. Disability Studies has brought into question foundational narratives of modern societies and has forced us to rethink how we conceive of ourselves, our bodies, communities, and nations. It has challenged academic communities to turn their attention to the accessibility of classrooms as well as the built environment on campuses. It has encouraged activists to reconsider what intersectionality can look like in practice and broadened conceptions of access. And it has prompted professional communities, such as medical experts and social workers, to profoundly transform practice by redefining notions of care. This conference encourages deeper conversations between academic and non-academic spaces,  university administration, social work, medical professional fields, and activism, to promote the valuable connections between theory and practice in all of those spaces. The 2018 Chicago Disability Studies Conference asks: What does it mean to bring disability, and the academic approaches based around disability, out of the margins and into the center? “Centering,” in this context, means to treat as essential the issues, perspectives, and insights that have often been placed at the margins. It does not mean to crowd out other perspectives but to occupy the same space.


This event is free, accessible, and open to the public. We invite submissions from graduate students, undergraduate students, activists, and community members. Papers and presentations that approach disability practically, conceptually, politically, affectively, epistemologically, and/or ontologically are welcome. Presenters from other fields often considered alongside Disability Studies—Deaf Studies, Mad Studies, etc.—are welcome to apply and explore the boundaries of these disciplines and categories.


Possible topics and questions to explore include, but are not limited to:

  • Intersectionality (Crenshaw 1991): How does centering disability impact our understanding of class, race, gender, and sexuality? What does it mean to center disability as an identity category and embodiment? How does our thinking about disability change when we think about intersections rather than margins and centers?
  • Inside and Outside Disability Studies: What are the borders of disability and Disability Studies? How do other embodied experiences, identity categories, and academic fields, such as Deaf Studies, Mad Studies, Life Course Studies, etc., speak to or with Disability Studies?
  • Social justice: What does it mean to center disability in other social movements, such as feminism, reproductive justice, labor, anti-racism, and anti-violence work? How can different identity-based movements re-center issues around each other? What critical and utopian horizons open when disability is included?
  • Citizenship: How does centering disability inform, complicate, and shift current debates regarding national identity, citizenship, refugee/immigrant status, etc.?
  • Environment, ecology, and climate change: What does it mean to center disability in discussions about natural disasters and climate change? Does this change how we think of vulnerability and resiliency?
  • Professional spheres: How is training in disability studies benefitting other professional disciplines, particularly the medical or rehabilitation sciences? Why should other professional disciplines incorporate and center disability?
  • Pain and trauma: How does centering disability in discussions of pain and trauma complicate current narratives surrounding these issues?
  • Academia and accessibility: How does centering disability affect or transform the classroom and/or the campus? How can Disability Studies and related fields change our models of accessibility and accommodation?


We invite everyone to consider these questions and others as they submit papers that demonstrate how disability are being centered in their scholarship, practice, and activism by Friday, February 23rd, at 11:59 PM. Abstracts should be no more than 250 words.


Presentation Times:

Graduate Students: 10-15 minutes

Undergraduate Students: 5-10 minutes

Community Members: 5-15 minutes


Please submit abstracts using the following Google Form:



If you have any questions or have difficulty accessing the submission form, contact Courtney Mullin at: cmulli4@uic.edu   

Winter Quarter 2018 Schedule

The Disability Studies Study Group is pleased to announce our winter quarter schedule! Spaces are still available to present in Spring quarter, so please contact the workshop coordinators if interested.

All meetings are in Rosenwald Hall 329 12:00-1:30pm unless otherwise noted.  An overall campus map is at https://maps.uchicago.edu/, and one focused on accessible entrances and exits to Rosenwald is at https://maps.uchicago.edu/ada/mainquad/rosenwal.shtml

1/5-Reading Discussion:  Mad at School by Margaret Price’s

1/19-Reading Discussion:  of “Un/Safe Disclosures; Scenes of Disability and Trauma” by Alison Kafer.

2/2- Presentation: Chao Wang, Ph.D. Student in History. Working title: “Christian Missionaries, Blind Converts, and Braille Literacy in China (1879-1911)”

2/16 -Presentation: Dr. Alyson Patsavas, Clinical Assistant Professor, UIC Disability and Human Development. Please stay tuned for talk title

3/2 – Presentation: Shruti Vaidya, Ph.D. student in Comparative Human Development. Working title: “Care, Disability, and the Indian Nation-State”

Any materials to be read before the meeting can be accessed here: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/0B1d482dTkFcoUXFGZ1JzNjlnYWs?usp=sharing