This Fall 2020 issue of DSQ offers several resonant chords:

  • ▲ Triangulating masculinity, authority, disability.
  • ▲ Acknowledging communication and the attendant breakdowns in communication and markers of mis/recognition that define disability experientially.
  • ▲ Engaging a relational model of disability (beyond a medical or social model) and leaning instead toward interdependence and interrelationality.

Leading off this issue, Julia Watts Belser's "Disability, Climate Change, and Environmental Violence: The Politics of Invisibility and the Horizon of Hope" positions environmental disability relationally, as an outcome of structural violence that is often highly concentrated in low-income communities of color. Belser explores the fraught tensions that inhibit political alliances between environmental justice and disability justice when disability is linked to environmental harm. Ultimately, this article foregrounds critical insights from disability studies and activism, including a critique of curative politics, that might prove indispensable to environmental justice work on climate change.

Jared Richman explores disability's interrelational constitution on a different scale. "The Royal Treatment: Temporality and Technology in The King's Speech" examines the 2010 British historical drama and its depiction of King George VI's stammer as a vocal disability that accrued meaning in relation to social norms that dictated expectations of royalty, masculinity, and empire. Richman argues that the "problem" of disability in the film was historically contingent, and mediated by new radio technology, a stratified British class system, and the performance of masculine authority and national identity.

Scot Danforth similarly engages with disability as an identity that is performed and negotiated in relation to particular audiences. Danforth writes about famed disability rights advocate Ed Roberts and his cultivation of a "performed identity" in his speaking circuit from 1983 through 1995. Roberts deployed autobiography to expose disability stigmatization as a social process that could be otherwise, rather than a natural and inevitable outcome of bodily difference.

Ewa McGrail, J. Patrick McGrail, and Alicja Rieger analyze the social interactions of another heroic (and male) disabled character, Jason Street, in the television series Friday Night Lights; they examine social roles that Jason can inhabit as a young man before and after he is disabled. The authors suggest ways this narrative could be rewritten as pro-disability with affirming social status for Jason, and they underscore the important role the media plays in shaping, communicating, and recognizing cultural attitudes about disability.

Tara Fannon engages similar themes of communication and recognition around the ways that disability and masculinity are perceived as antithetical. In "Will's Story: A Voice-Centered Narrative of Self and Identity in Everyday Life," Fannon presents a case study of Will, a visually disabled man.

Aja McKee and Audri Sandoval Gomez also explore mis/communication and mis/recognition in "The Voices of Typers: Examining the Educational Experiences of Individuals Who Use Facilitated Communication." In a study of eight (educationally-based) cases, McKee and Gomez examine the nature of relationships, disability hierarchy and the presumption of competence, and the complex nature of communication via sensory experience, body movement, and non-voice-based behaviors.

In a literary case study, Amber Knight focuses on the politics of recognition and the violence of identity-based subordination in securing and then reinscribing victim status to the Creature in Mary Shelly's classic novel, Frankenstein. Knight offers a disability counter-politics through an understanding, and an interrogation, of the patterns of the Creature's (not-so) monstrous mis/recognition.

Alice Equestri's literary case study and close reading of the "natural fool" character, Touchstone, in Shakespeare's play, As You Like It, continues a disability counter-politics by using Siebers' construct of "complex embodiment" to invite richer interpretations of Touchstone's words, actions, and relationships. Equestri's analysis of Touchstone reappropriates Renaissance views of intellectual non-normativity.

Jennifer Denbow examines the political authority, economy, and re/appropriation of non-invasive prenatal tests (NIPTs) and cross-analyzes recent state laws and legislative debates in the United States concerning the prohibition of abortions performed because of a diagnosis of fetal disability. In "Prenatal Nondiscrimination Laws: Disability, Social Conservatism, and the Political Economy of Genetic Screening," Denbow advances a counter-politics to the individualized, non-relational burden placed on individuals—structurally, politically, economically— especially on pregnant persons.

Zhiying Ma and Zhen Ni use an anti-discrimination framework and an impact case approach for disability rights advocacy to investigate, in-depth, the policy and media case of a blind massage therapist who took the National College Entrance Examination (NCEE) in Braille, and was the first to do so in China. "Hero with Zeroes? Promises and Perils of an Anti-Discrimination Framework and an Impact Case Approach of Disability Rights Advocacy in China" suggests that a deeply individualistic approach to anti-discrimination, policy barriers, and (disabled people's) vulnerabilities might, in fact, only further alienate people in disabled communities.

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Copyright (c) 2020 Brenda Brueggemann, Elizabeth Brewer, Kelsey Henry

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Volume 1 through Volume 20, no. 3 of Disability Studies Quarterly is archived on the Knowledge Bank site; Volume 20, no. 4 through the present can be found on this site under Archives.

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