Desiring Disability Research Symposium, Sheffield, 23rd November

Desiring Disability Symposium, University of Sheffield, 23rd November 2016, 12.00-17.00

Location: Room 8.07, Husband Building (Education Building), University of Sheffield, 388 Glossop Road, Sheffield, S10 2JA

Note: There is construction outside of the building, which is still accessible, but it is advised to give more time to find your way in


Introductory speech from:

Professor Dan Goodley:  Desiring Dis/ability


Holly Burkinshaw & Antonios Ktenidis: The Desire of Disability to the Study of Spatiality

Marek Mackiewicz: “Life Feels Good”

Vicky Mann: Students’ Lived Experience as a Learning Resource to Transform Learning

Lindsay Miller: Cripping Disability: Unsettling Positionality and the Rituals of Categorization

Michael Miller: CripQueering the Classroom: Smashing the Social Construction of Desire


Holly Burkinshaw & Antonios Ktenidis

The Desire of Disability to the Study of Spatiality

 Spatiality and human Geography has been a part of Disability Studies since the formation of UPIAS (Abberly, 1987; Oliver, 2009) but to what extent has Disability Studies scholars engaged with spatial theories? Drawing on the intersectionality of Critical Disability Studies (Goodley, 2011), this presentation unpicks some of the nuances of spatial geographies as set out by Procter (2015); Hackett (2015) and Curtis, (2015) to examine if, and how, Critical Disability Studies scholars can benefit from considering a spatial lens. Lefebvre’s (1994) ‘Spatial Triad’ is utilised to help to make sense of the perceived, conceived and lived spaces of disability alongside Kitchin’s (1998) ideas around the ‘power of space’ that ‘keep disabled people in place’. We highlight the enforcement of normalcy in space (Davis, 1995) and spatial design in relation to dis/placing or Dis/playing non-normative bodies before introducing our concept of ‘Dis-spatiality’. These ideas are drawn together by considering the dis/placed and dis/criminatory landscapes of dis/ability and embodiment (Michalko and Titchkosky, 2001) in order to challenge dominant ablest scriptures of space and place. Finally, we utilize Kraftl’s (2013) ideas to consider how children and young people move ‘beyond voice’ and ‘beyond agency’ to resist dominant spatial scriptures and, in doing so, actively resisting and re-constructing the landscapes of Dis-spatiality.

Marek Mackiewicz

“Life Feels Good”

The departure point for this presentation is the assertion that to understand a phenomenon, one needs to look at its social and cultural contexts (e.g. Berger & Luckmann, 1967; Gergen, 1985; Snyder & Mitchell, 2006). This means that attending to these social and cultural aspects is essential for a broad, wholesome understanding of any problem that one might research. The particular aim of this chapter is to explore what does Pieprzyca’s (2013) ‘Life feels good’ say about the socio-cultural construction of disability in Poland.

Employing the cultural model of disability (e.g. Garland Thomson, 2002) and Snyder and Mitchell’s (2006) ‘cultural locations of disability’, I deliberate on the problematic depiction of desire and disabled person’s desirability in the critically acclaimed film.

My argument is that the film sustains and / or reproduces the ideology of ‘personal tragedy theory’ (Oliver, 1996, p. 119) and neoliberal ableism  (Goodley, 2014). It does so, in part by exploiting the trope of disability to evoke emotions (Snyder & Mitchell, 2006) and if it is so the representation of disability in it, is invariably tainted.

Vicky Mann

Students’ Lived Experience as a Learning Resource to Transform Learning

This session considers how the lived experiences of students with disabilities can inform both practice and research. It shows how these experiences can be harnessed to improve inclusivity in teaching and develop innovative teaching practices, for example, developing inclusive assessments and teaching strategies. Further, it discusses how these experiences can inform research. It uses the case study of how a student who had experienced cancer related fatigue used this experience to develop a new way of thinking about fatigue, and had his research accepted at an international cancer conference (the NRCI).

Lindsay Miller

Cripping Disability: Unsettling Positionality and the Rituals of Categorization

Is disability undesirable? Is disability desirable? In order to get at the material-discursive underpinnings that produce the experience of un/desire, why must we first queer, subvert, destabilize and crip the category of ‘disability’ itself? While cripping is said to problematize and resist able-bodied/-minded assumptions of what constitutes ‘normal,’ this presentation will instead crip disability in order to problematize and resist some of the taken for granted assumptions of what constitutes disability/abnormality. Relatedly, meaning-making and the impossibility of rendering positionality, location, or context irrelevant to content will be attended to as a way to unsettle the tendency to delink our epistemic location from the various ways we actively produce knowledge (Alcoff, 1991; Scott, 1992). This presentation will also explore categorization as a ritual of sorts, with rituals being carriers of cultural codes symbolically transmitting ideologies that shape our perceptions, ways of understanding, and experiencing which are inextricably linked to relationships of power (McLaren, 1986). It is through becoming aware of how we shape and are shaped by the precarity involved in the performativity of ritual that we can embrace this precarity to further disrupt dominant, oppressive and often imperialistic structures (both external and internal) (McCormarck, 2014; Grech, 2012).

Michael Miller

CripQueering the Classroom: Smashing the Social Construction of Desire

The focus of this paper is on disability in the education system and the forms of violence that occur when an environment (classroom) doesn’t challenge dominant conceptions of ‘normal’ and its necessary, and necessarily undesirable opposite, ‘abnormal’ – simultaneously reinforcing ‘normal’ and punishing ‘abnormal’ (behaviors, desires, bodies, etc.). This paper will present potential opportunities to ‘cripqueer the classroom’ by offering ideas and challenges for dissenting from the systems of ‘compulsory heterosexuality’ (Rich 1980), ‘compulsory able-bodiedness’ (McRuer 2006) and ‘compulsory able-mindedness’ (Kafer2013) that serve to justify legal and social surveillance/exclusion/control and other forms of violence in (and out of) the classroom.

By (co)creating space where the mandated normative structure of the classroom (e.g. design, curriculum, student/teacher and student/student dynamics) is cripqueered, opportunities to first expose and challenge indoctrinated desires are opened up to later consider one’s own non-normative desires. Breaking down the power dynamic between teacher/student through the incorporation of something as (seemingly) simple as conversation (in the various ways that manifests) rather than the standard ‘banking model of education’ (Freire 1970) poses challenges and opportunities that a prefigurative approach will necessarily be emphasized.

Content Note: This presentation will include some talk of violence, as well as what some may consider coarse language.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s