Disability Arts and Culture: Methods and Approaches centers an intercultural collection of essays that forward the ways we make meaning of/in/with the triangulated terms: disability, art, and culture. Editor Petra Kuppers has spent much of their career studying disability performance in dance/movement studies, affording them a background knowledge of the three titular terms (disability, arts, culture), but perhaps even more importantly, advancing a perception towards work that rethinks our own background knowledges. Most productively, this book allows us to rethink ideas of disability performances from the most local occurrences such as getting into a community pool, to the most global such as the 2012 Paralympic Games.

The scope of this collection is impressive and for several reasons. First, it takes up the work of critical disability studies by foregrounding many intersectional and global and non-Western explorations of disability art and culture. Essays such as Chapter 7 "The Portrayal of People with Disabilities in Moroccan Proverbs and Jokes" (Karimova et al) open up the gaps in our knowledge of representations of disability in non-Western contexts. With our awareness turned to these opened gaps, we engage more interesting and exciting questions like these:
How do we generate knowledge amid translation difficulties? How do translation difficulties affect our knowledge production of disability arts and culture? How do we use a decolonial approach to study cultures where biographical, legal, or medical representations of disability have been studied more than popular culture representations?

These are just a snapshot of questions that arise from my reading of just one chapter that exemplifies a global disability studies. Kuppers foregrounds this intersectional, global approach early in their Introduction, "In this relatively young discipline [disability studies] pool, it is possible to be strategic in one's choices, and to shape origin stories that reflect the world we want to live in: one that aggregates its narratives from multiple perspectives and experiences " (4). Readers are motivated to be strategic and accountable in such a way, bringing new accountability to how we can continuously shape disability studies in an equitable way. The text serves as a call to action and a remarkable display of what work can look like when that call for action is earnestly taken up.

Second, the book has strong methods-based examples that also benefit from the wide scope. Broken up into four different methods-based approaches to knowledge production, the book covers textual analysis, discourse analysis, qualitative inquiry, and ethnography. Disability studies methods are still being developed in this young discipline, which makes these essays incredibly helpful for people interested in examples of others deploying these methods. The methods are situated in scholarly inquiry, which makes this text perhaps more useful for scholars in the field. For example, I'm currently embarking on a longer ethnographic study and the final section aided me immensely in thinking about ethical and equitable strategic choices to make for my participants and me. However, here is precisely where the audience of the book opens up in a meaningful way that forwards our understanding of a disability studies methodology. The field has tried hard to engage and value people from outside academia and art audiences with great strides but still has a far way to go. Kuppers offers disability arts and culture methodologies to break from those audiences and to shatter the performer/audience, reader/author and other binaries that limit our ways of knowing, "We move from expected habitus – sitting orderly on chairs – onto the ground, and audience members explore new rules for engagement with one another." (9).

The final chapter, "Swimming with the Salamander: A Community Eco-Performance Project" (Kuppers), shows off this rebranded disability studies ethnography for all the transformative force it has. The chapter delves into the experiences of people with disabilities that began swimming together as an art project. Unlike a traditional ethnography, it doesn't begin with a detailed listing of methodological choices or reviews of literature, but rather, with writing prompts that were attached to the original art exhibit panels, pictures of the people involved in the group, and introductions to key disability studies concepts like crip time but with personal anecdotes to help ground them. The author (Kuppers) is as embedded into the essay as the other contributors, offering her own personal writings alongside theirs. The binary of participant/observer is thus also shattered in a way that affirms the complexity of people with disabilities studying with/in/about people with disabilities. The chapter, and the book by extension, can be read by multiple audiences with widely varied and drastically different outcomes.

From this approach that services different audiences and strives to break the preference towards writing for an academic or arts-based audience, the text could have perhaps been made more accessible. Chapters like "Swimming with the Salamander" and few others branch out from a traditionally academic composition style, but we must also keep in mind that creating a unified accessible register across nineteen contributors is quite the challenge. I could see certain chapters being useful in undergraduate classes that want to integrate specific disabilities and/or specific genres of art and performance. For example, a course that covers disability and writing/rhetorical practices as they intersect with identity formation could benefit from chapters like Chapter 9: 'It's really scared of disability': Disabled Comedians' Perspectives of the British Television Comedy Industry" (Lockyer).

I think this book could do the most good in a research methods course, whether or not it centers disability, as it would invite generative conversations about what a disability methodology looks like.

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Copyright (c) 2020 Noah Bukowski

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