CFP-2018 American Studies Association Conference

2018 American Studies Association Conference

Call for Paper Proposals

Panel Title: Thinking Beyond Recovery: Cripistemologies of Continuous Crisis

Dominant ableist epistemologies rely on the rhetoric of crisis and recovery in relation to illness and disability. This orientation toward the imagined spacetime of suffering bodies and minds mirrors what some would call a short-sighted view of political history, attuned to so-called temporary states of crisis and emergency. Such an orientation leaves communities vulnerable to authoritarian forms of surveillance and control, and threatens lateral networks of support and care. We contend that the very notion of “emergency” is ontologically, epistemologically, and phenomenologically rooted in ableist logics of the body(mind), time, and space.

Disability studies – and especially the emphasis on collective emergences of disability or debility and on crip social networks – compels us to think beyond the crisis/recovery temporality, attending instead to lived experiences of disability and chronic illness. In other words, disability studies vitally offers “crip” epistemologies of “knowing-in-relation,” as explored in the two-issue series on cripistemology in the Journal of Literary and Cultural Disability Studies in 2014. Cripistemology encounters experiences of time, space, and place shaped by practices of survival rather than by an ableist aspiration toward an idealized horizon of recovery. With this in mind, members of the Critical Disability Studies Caucus extend an invitation for submissions that explore what critical tools thinking through lived experiences of disability, trauma, and chronic illness can offer us in navigating states of perceived emergency and crisis in a socially fortifying, emergent modality. This panel foregrounds the rhetorical, ideological, and material linkages of disability experience and socio-political crises in order to disrupt a dominant “recovery epistemology” of personal and social emergency.

The current turn in disability studies toward theorizing collective social experiences of impairment and crip temporality coincides with a turn in critical theory to deconstructing temporalities of crisis (Berlant), and attending to “chronicity” (Freeman). Lauren Berlant’s understanding of “slow death” and “crisis ordinariness,” Jasbir Puar’s theoriziations of “debility,” and Rob Nixon’s formulation of “slow violence demand that we conceive of violence, devastation, and spectacular loss as endemic to the very systems that seek to exceptionalize them. Critical disability studies, in turn, exposes the limits of conceiving of disability as only a traumatic and devastating disruption of everyday life, and offers recent theorizations of crip time as a way to understand the complex ways of living with/in disability. We intentionally bring together these seemingly disparate bodies of scholarship that fundamentally challenge dominant temporal epistemologies and foreground experiences of living and surviving precarity (Butler). We content that disability epistemologies, or cripistemologies, are vitally adjuvant to work that complicates the time and pace of “crisis.” Indeed, we posit that the recent “emergence” or recognition of critical disability studies as a theoretically vibrant and generative body of work is inseparable from current and ongoing moments of socio-political crisis, emergency, and exceptionality.

Building on the conference’s call for papers, we seek proposals that think beyond the recovery of a presumably normal, neutral, or prior state. Instead, our call leverages what we call cripistemologies derived from experiences of continuous crisis. We seek projects that center ways of knowing – through disability, illness, trauma, pain, and debility – that recognize modes of survival and possibility when acts of “recovery of human life from the spoils of degradation” are not readily available (Robinson). As a panel, we aim to foster an intellectual exchange that places crip theorizations of the bodymind (Price) alongside cultural critiques of space, place and time in order to access the lived political insights that might emerge from dwelling in chronic and continuous states of crisis and survival.

And so, we ask:

How might critical disability studies reframe our understandings of both social and personal crisis? How do crisis and emergency shape the experiences and knowledges of our bodyminds in time and space? How would responses to crises differ if we destabilized the presumption of an able-bodymind or body politic?  How might cripistemologies model an emergent approach to survival, care, accommodation, and community formation that move beyond notions of  recovery?

Possible entry points include, but are not limited, to:

  • Rhetorics of crisis/emergency
  • Aesthetics of crisis and/or the (crip) aesthetics of survival
  • Queer temporalities and/or phenomenologies
  • Cultural representations of crisis and/or survival
  • Geopolitical and biopolitical (violent, racialized) productions of chronic illness and disability
  • Pain, trauma, sick time, debility, and/or slow death
  • The relationship between disability and debility
  • The emergence of critical disability studies/crip theory
  • Chronic pain and illness in relation to socio-cultural crisis/trauma
  • The temporal paradoxes of emergency and crisis with/in disability and chronic illness
  • Crip spacetime (Price)
  • The utility, possibilities, and limitations of trauma theory
  • The disability community’s understandings of, and/or responses to, crisis/emergency
  • Disability as social emergencies to be cured/fixed

Please submit an abstract of 500 words to Aly Patsavas (apatsa2@uic.edu) and Theodora Danylevich (theodora@gwmail.gwu.edu) by January 10th at 6pm, Central Standard Time. In addition to the abstract, please include a paper title, short bio, and affiliation. This panel will be submitted to the Critical Disability Studies Caucus for consideration as a caucus sponsored panel.