I can haz critical race and disability theory
May 23, 2015 10:53 AM   Subscribe

How does a non-academic find interesting academic texts? For months I've been trying to find stuff written about the intersections of systemic oppressions, namely racism, with bodies, health and disability. I feel so sure that some smart academics have written about this, but how do I find that writing?

Academic books don't usually get reviewed in even the more in-depth literary review publications. Certain very well known academics are easily googled and their writing easily found ("public intellectuals" Judith Butler or Cornell West come to mind) but I have a super hard time finding anyone who hasn't had wide popular distribution (which I imagine is a lot of academics who focus on race, racism, and disability).

The specific thing I'm looking for is stuff to help me think about how I as a nurse work primarily with African American clients who are dealing with multiple, life-limiting illnesses and also often have physical disabilities. So if you have specific reading suggestions that talk to, in a theoretical not just statistical framework, like, the illness burden on historically (and currently) oppressed groups, I'd love to hear them!

But more broadly, is there some kind of database or set of places I can look for recommendations? Blogs I should follow? Something else? I did just discover this podcast which is definitely the kind of resource I'm looking for.
posted by latkes to Media & Arts (14 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
"Disability Culture" is the search term for you. Lots of active writers in this field, and it has academic departments (see faculty bio pages for current publications.) You can also find non-academic/experience-based accounts using that term. For example, there may be Facebook groups using that term, and you can find blogs of first-person accounts.
posted by Jason and Laszlo at 11:00 AM on May 23, 2015

For me, the most groundbreaking and cutting-edge theory on intersectional considerations of disability frequently doesn't come from academia but from disability justice communities and activists - part of this has to do with how multiply marginalized disabled people have frequently been systematically barred from academia. Mia Mingus runs a fantastic blog, so check that out as a start: https://leavingevidence.wordpress.com
posted by Conspire at 11:01 AM on May 23, 2015 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: I definitely want more ideas about disability so thanks for these two comments so far - very helpful and please keep them coming! But I also feel more well-versed in the activist and community-based thinking on disability mentioned above, whereas I have found very little about race and it's intersections with health, bodies, disability etc. My clients, when they share their stories, have physical illness that so clearly (to me) seems linked to the deeply oppressive forces that have acted on them and their parents and grandparents. So I'm especially interested in that. (And also in who is considered healthy and what bodies are considered normal viewed through an awareness of racism).
posted by latkes at 11:11 AM on May 23, 2015

DOAJ is an online directory that indexes and provides access to high quality, open access, peer-reviewed journals. You can also Ask A Librarian through the Library of Congress website.
posted by Little Dawn at 11:13 AM on May 23, 2015

It sounds like you would find actual specific academic journals useful. That way you would read a spectrum of thought and discover favourite authors. It is not my area of expertise but another librarian would be able to tell you what are current,credible journals. Look for the contact info for subject librarians in a large university library. The subject librarians specialty should be sociology, if not narrower.
posted by saucysault at 11:54 AM on May 23, 2015

Public libraries have access to academic journals btw.
posted by saucysault at 11:55 AM on May 23, 2015

Have you heard of Virgie Tovar, she is at the vanguard of the fat acceptance, disability and minority rights movement for about three years and remains a constant inspiration and source.
posted by parmanparman at 12:17 PM on May 23, 2015 [1 favorite]

While not answering your specific question, I'd mention I always just add "syllabus" to my searches, when I'm looking for more academic writing. The thought being, if anyone can steer me in the right direction, it's probably a teacher who is interested enough in this stuff to put together a reading list, but who doesn't necessarily have a blog or other easily-visible social media presence!
posted by mittens at 1:14 PM on May 23, 2015 [1 favorite]

The unfortunately late but very great Marta Russell talks alot about disability and its intersection with poverty in Beyond Ramps: Disability at the End of the Social Contract. Aside from that book, the Wikipedia page has some cites of where some of her other work appeared.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 4:21 PM on May 23, 2015

I am mobile so I can't link you directly, but Dr Julie Passante Elman is a former professor of mine who has written lots on disability. She is a women and gender studies professor, so the intersectionality you're looking for is there. I would recommend seeking out her texts and maybe even shooting her an email.
posted by rubster at 9:49 AM on May 24, 2015 [1 favorite]

Write the folks that do the podcast you like and ask for recs.
posted by mermaidcafe at 10:17 AM on May 24, 2015 [1 favorite]

Thought I'd inquire with my in-house expert on this. Mr. Conspiracy says that some of the terms you might be looking for are "critical disability theory" and "critical disability studies."

In particular, he says you might find the listserv managed by the Centre for Disability Studies at the University of Leeds a useful source.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 1:57 PM on May 24, 2015 [1 favorite]

While not dealing specifically with intersectionality between race and disability, I would nonetheless like to recommend Rod Michalko's The Difference That Disability Makes.

Additionally, last week I ordered a course pack from a university. I've been out of school for years, but it's an excellent way to get a compilation/survey of essential essays on a topic, curated by a professor and neatly bound.
posted by offrecord at 9:10 AM on May 25, 2015 [1 favorite]

Kate Gainer discusses her experiences around race and disability in this YouTube series.

Here's a textbook chapter that may be relevant (or its authors may have resources): Equity in organizations: issues in race, class, gender, and disability

Dialogue we’ve Yet to Have: Race and Disability Studies

Intersection of Disability and Race

A few years ago I found a great blog written by a black American woman (and mom) who uses a wheelchair, I think due to SCI. I can't remember the link but will keep looking.

Finally, Rolling Around In My Head is a blog that deals with one man's experience of disability. He is proud about being fat, gay, a wheelchair user, and a disability rights activist, and while he doesn't say much on race, he has a lot of valid observations around intersectionality. Based on the way he writes, I suspect he'd know of many resources and perhaps be pleased to share.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 3:00 PM on June 5, 2015

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