Abstract

This article considers crip resistance to the politics of austerity with which Spain's government has reacted to the COVID-19 pandemic, roughly a decade after the 15-M anti-austerity movement and its occupations. Given the intensification of austerity politics and their effects on people with disabilities, I examine three instances of crip resistance and their virtual, local, and global settings. Beyond McRuer's expansive view of crip resistance as comprised of tactics that center disability against global austerity, my analysis establishes its groundwork in the current demands by Spanish disability advocacy groups and on Javier Romañach's modelo de diversidad funcional, the prevalent model of disability among Spanish disability activists that centers the concept of dignity. Throughout this analysis, I demonstrate how crip tactics that emerge in a crisis can help make sense of a continuing emergency as they challenge the existing conditions of cultural austerity and contribute to the concept of dignity as an organizing principle.


1. Introduction

In July 2020, King Felipe VI of Spain presided over a ceremony memorializing lives lost in the pandemic, proclaiming "the moral obligation to recognize, respect, and always remember the dignity of the departed." 1 At the time of his speech, Spain was one of the countries facing the worst spread of contagion and financial loss in Europe. Felipe VI's speech begs the question: "What is dignity in the context of a public health crisis?" In the case of the deceased, it might conjure expectations of a burial or medical treatment in the final days. Conversely, living with dignity during a pandemic would mean, at a minimum, access to medical care, the assurance that one can continue to carry out the basic tasks of living (modified though they may be), and access to developing information. One month before Felipe VI's speech, the European Parliament acknowledged that the COVID-19 crisis had resulted in the violation of rights of people with disabilities in ways that denied dignity: in the early months of the pandemic, people with disabilities suffered a disruption of care services, a lack of access to relevant information, and exclusions from urgent care. 2 Felipe VI's speech in such immediate juxtaposition with the ongoing indignities calls to mind disability activist Javier Romañach's assertion that death with dignity should be the conclusion to a life with dignity — as well as, his assessment that society finds it easier to focus on dignity in death than on dignity in life (Bioética 208-209).

This article examines three examples of advocacy and activism that maintained a focus on dignity and articulated it as a necessity in the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic. These examples elucidate connections between Romañach's conceptualization of dignity as an organizing principle and Robert McRuer's study of crip resistance to ideologies of austerity, which he terms "crip tactics." As in McRuer's exploration in crip tactics, the examples I follow here emerge in diverse discursive spaces: the public space of the city, carceral institutions, and a photojournalistic website. In the context of the ongoing pandemic, recording crip tactics as they emerge proves important because doing so aids in the process of making sense of a crisis in real time and shows possible points of connection across distinct topics and groups of cultural workers. Ultimately, these tactics illuminate how responses to a public health and economic crisis create crucial interventions, attending to the structures that facilitate the devaluation of life in the first place, while laying out burning visions of what dignity and solidarity might look like in the context of a crisis.

As a brief note on terminology across cultural contexts, I must acknowledge the debate in Spain about the use of crip. Leaving the word in English (as teoría crip) does not capture its subversive impulse or attend to cultural nuance (Gúzman Castillo and Platero Méndez 134; García Santesmases, "Dilemas feministas" 28). However, the translation as teoría tullida is not yet in common use and is difficult to comprehend without knowledge of crip theory (García Santesmases, "Crip" 13-16). For this article, I chose to leave crip untranslated in crip tactics for several reasons: because I am writing in English with a diverse international audience in mind, because "tullidxs" is not used in all Hispanophone countries (and could therefore cause further confusion), and because McRuer's Crip Theory has been published in Spanish as Teoría Crip. In a different context or in translation a different term might be warranted.

2. Dignity and Crip Tactics in the Pandemic

Despite originating in different contexts, the works of Romañach and McRuer comes together easily. This is due in part to the global perspective McRuer takes in Crip Times, which opens with his participation in an anti-austerity 15-M march in the summer of 2016, alongside disability activists Melania Moscoso Pérez and Javier Romañach. McRuer connects his method of using disability as a primary analytic for precarity and anti-austerity efforts to Miriam Arenas Conejo and Asun Pié Balaguer's scholarship on the functional diversity (disability) committees in the 15-M movement, as well as to Romañach's assertion that disability activism in Spain anticipated the anti-austerity movement (McRuer 12, 236). McRuer's work is rooted partly-but-irrevocably in Spanish disability activism and scholarship. Further exploring these connections between dignity and crip resistance sheds light on pandemic efforts to contest cultural austerity.

Romañach's description of the independent living movement in Spain as a "mini 15-M" years prior to the large-scale anti-austerity movement signals the overlapping theorizations of precarity and vulnerability, as well as the militantly democratic methods of both activist moments (Arenas Conejo and Pié Balaguer 236). It was around this time, in 2005, that Javier Romañach and Agustina Palacios introduced the functional diversity model, 3 a new model of disability which centers the concept of dignity. 4 This model emerged from their critique that the social model's goal of removing barriers is that people with disabilities will be able to do the same things as people without disabilities. Romañach and Palacios argue that instead of focusing on what people with disabilities are "able" to do, using dignity 5 as an organizing principle 6 seeks to reduce social barriers and increase personal autonomy while decentering the importance of human ability or use-value (El modelo de la diversidad 169).

The tension between use-value and dignity during a public health crisis may seem daunting, as though it is reasonable to dispense with dignity at a time when physiological needs are at risk. 7 The delineation of a class of laborers as "essential workers" reifies the sense that society is being stripped down to its bare bones, bearing out what is useful to the continuation of society and what is not. Unemployment trends during the pandemic would appear to confirm this assumption: By the time Felipe VI memorialized the dignity of the dead, the unemployment rate had reached 15%, the highest it had been in seven years. 8 Of working people with disabilities, 58% had been laid-off and 39% had been affected by a temporary suspension. 9 The view of disposability implicit in this discrimination is inseparable from the more urgent life-and-death disposability that arose in the exclusion of people with disabilities from intensive care units. The contingency plan created by the Spanish Society of Intensive Care physicians explicitly lists neuromuscular and intellectual disabilities as reasons to deny access to intensive care in the case of a mass casualty event (Rascado Sedes, et al. 54). 10 In both cases the prevalence of human disposability is rooted in the expectation of social use-value. 11 In the pandemic, demanding dignity means rejecting human disposability, and dignity is therefore inseparable from basic physiological necessities.

Because use-value and disposability are dominant cultural values, demands for dignity must operate as "crip tactics." Drawing from Michel de Certeau's theorization of tactics as practices that constitute a resistance to power, McRuer proposes that "crip tactics" intervene in austerity politics, "[proliferating] crip possibilities, going beyond the austere limits both the state and dominant discourses would impose upon disability" (57). While austerity commonly refers to policies that reduce spending, increase taxes, and lengthen labor hours, austerity politics spill past the economic domain and into a neoliberal cultural politics (McRuer 56). Thinking of austerity as a pervading cultural value is key to understanding the equitable expansiveness of crip tactics, which can address the economic heart of austerity, as well as its indirect results. Accordingly, McRuer's examples of people enacting crip tactics include some who are informed by cultural theory and others who might not be, some who might be aware of connections with disability activism and justice and others who are moved by precarity (whether or not they name it as such). All are motivated by the desire for a more livable life. To name something a "crip tactic" is not to say this is what protesters really mean or – in the most intense cases of violence – to evaporate physical and physiological agony into a mist of theory. On the contrary, recognizing something as a crip tactic means to understand it as a strategy for survival and increased livability, as well as part of a constellation of related struggles.

Crip tactics, then, are articulations that call out what austerity politics would have us take for granted: they link neoliberal policies to the material impact on bodies, with the intent of claiming dignity. One of the strengths of McRuer's conceptualization of crip tactics is the variety of tactics he offers. The examples I have selected continue to differentiate and multiply the tactics that can be taken up by various agents, while also exploring the cultural politics of dignity as they are debated and reshaped in the midst of crisis. The first tactic is led by an organization but depends on the dissemination of information by social citizens. The second is carried out by an incarcerated population but may depend on media reporting. The third, which involves photojournalism, is created by a single artist but engages broader networks of interconnected community members. Individual agency and collective action advance and recede in turn, urging consideration of the democratic and interdependent drive in crip tactics, as well as the possibility of joining or amplifying such diverse efforts.

3. No Es Capricho, Es Necesidad: The Fight Against Policing (Tactic 1)

As soon as the state-mandated lockdown in Spain began on March 14, 2020, people with autism and their caregivers became targets of street harassment for engaging in therapeutic walks. 12 Although the Official State Bulletin implied an exemption for such cases by stating that the lockdown did not apply to "situations of necessity" or "assistance and care," newspapers reported that parents of children with autism were yelled at, insulted by their neighbors, and fined by police. 13 Disability advocacy organizations, such as Autismo España and Plena Inclusión, requested that the government offer a clarifying statement and disseminated information about the legality and necessity of "paseos terapeuticos" (therapeutic strolls) by mobilizing the slogan "No es capricho. Es necesidad." (It's not a whim. It's a necessity).

This slogan circulated in interviews, hashtags, and flyers — educating the general public while critiquing the impulse to police and punish people with disabilities. The slogan seems, intentionally or not, rooted in an interpretation of the vaguely worded clause regarding situations of necessity. In a moment of crisis, it is likely that the "situations of necessity" were intended to refer to emergencies or that they were, in any case, misinterpreted that way by the members of the public and police. The interpretation offered by Plena Inclusión, however, expanded the clause beyond situations of life-and-death to refer more inclusively to situations that maintain the dignity of people with disability during this crisis. This does two things: First, it implies that dignity is a necessity. If we think in the terms of the cultural values of austerity, the necessities of living do not include dignity. As such, "No es capricho. Es necesidad." rejects the idea that making life worthwhile is a dispensable luxury.

Secondly, it draws attention to the long-term necessities of care that neoliberalism renders invisible. McRuer explores the invisibilization of various aspects of disability by arguing that austerity policies are, in part, made possible by the frequently reiterated and highly limited representation of disability as a tragedy individual champions can overcome, at the expense of any other representation of disability (56). We might trace a connection from McRuer's analysis of the austerity of representation with the "emergency model" of care in able-bodied activist communities that Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha critiques. She describes the "emergency model" as one in which members of the community respond to an urgent medical event ("A sense of urgency! Purpose! Action!"), but, a few weeks after providing emergency caregiving, those inculcated in ableist culture assume the person has recovered and cease to provide care (52-53). Both concepts evince the ableist desire to look away from experiences of disability, which (following McRuer and Piepzna-Samarasinha, respectively) we can expect to intensify at a moment of heightened austerity and acute health crisis such as the pandemic. 14 In the case of therapeutic strolls, this perpetual looking away engenders a misinterpretation, a mistaking of what is necessary for a frivolity. By centering what may look like a non-emergency necessity, "No es capricho. Es necesidad." challenges the deep-seated assumption in the interstices of austerity and ableism that "acute, sudden need" (Piepzna-Samarasinha 52) is more worthy (of attention, resources, respect) than ongoing disabilities.

Indeed, the aggressive policing enacted against people on therapeutic walks is an expression of an austerity mindset. In her analysis on the cultural politics of emotion, Sara Ahmed briefly examines the British National Front's use of the term "soft touch Britain," a xenophobic dogwhistle that calls for "harder" anti-immigrant policies. Ahmed asks "How does a nation come to be imagined as having a 'soft touch'?" (1). A related question (albeit one with a far more straightforward answer) might be "How does an economic policy (austerity) come to be associated with a particular emotional attitude?" The policing of people in the street, in this case, does not relate directly to the economic policy of austerity. Thinking of austerity as a "broadly cultural phenomenon" (McRuer 56) we might consider that neoliberal values function in such a way that, in a moment of crisis, they coagulate into austere cultural values (laying the groundwork for austere economic policies, should they arise). Austerity, in this sense, is not only cutbacks, a sense of deprivation or sacrifice experienced en masse, but the limited distribution of goods and experiences and the tone with which that distribution is policed. Anger and envy might mingle in the act of surveilling neighbors to ensure that they receive as little luxury or joy as you. Austere, after all, first means bitterness, then sternness and severity.

Plena Inclusión's rhetoric challenges the tone of neighbor-to-neighbor policing, as well as the act of policing itself. A flyer created by Plena Inclusión explains, "People with intellectual disabilities and/or autism need to engage in short therapeutic strolls… Don't insult or rebuke them; put yourself in their place." The flyer then adds "If you see someone walking in the street, consider that it isn't a whim. It's a necessity," and asks that people print and post the flyer around their community. The delineated course of action is to replace policing with the act of empathizing and educating, to replace austerity with solidarity. After guiding their audience to consider that disabilities may not always be visible and to react with empathy, the flyer asks the reader to "collaborate with the families of people with intellectual or developmental disability… Help weave webs of solidarity." This rhetoric does not urge the public to replace policing with pity, which would maintain the same hierarchical sense of control over others, but with solidarity — suggesting that collaborating, building understanding is another way of responding to a lack of control.

Enacting solidarity with people with disabilities, the flyer implies, requires abandoning expectations of what disability looks like and abandoning the sense of having a right to know about strangers' bodies. Although Plena Inclusión refers to the legality of therapeutic strolls, the suggestion is clearly not that members of the public attempt to uphold the law by inquiring into the possible disability status of people they see in the street. In a public statement, the legal advisor for Plena Inclusión argued that it was unjust that people on therapeutic walks "find themselves obligated to renounce their right to honor and privacy by identifying themselves, before strangers, as people with disabilities" ("Plena Inclusión denuncia"). Pointing to the UN's defense of privacy as a right of people with disabilities, Plena Inclusión rejected the idea that people in need of therapeutic walks wear any markers identifying them as disabled. This statement uses the codification of dignity in law, but, perhaps more importantly, demands a shift in cultural values, whereby solidarity is the default, rather than policing, and in which solidarity functions as the cornerstone of an accessible environment.

As a tactic "No es capricho. Es necesidad" and the efforts that surrounded it confront the cultural values of austerity in at least two ways: (1) by asserting dignity as an ongoing necessity and (2) by articulating a rejection of policing.

4. Prison Riots: Demanding Health in Carceral Spaces (Tactic 2)

Like the first tactic, the second responds to punitive elements that are intensified in a health crisis, with the important difference that it draws attention to carceral sites as irreconcilable with aspirations toward dignity or accessible environments. Unsurprisingly, prisons became sites of heightened concern and contagion during the pandemic. Fourteen riots were reported in prisons across Spain and Catalonia 15 between March 14 and May 1, 2020 (Travieso). According to newspaper reports, riots included complaints of insufficient protections against the virus and a lack of information (Larrondo, Travieso). The surge of illness rates among prisoners and the global occurrence of prison protests unquestionably evidence broad-range systemic failures: by late April, half of all prisoners in Estremera, a penitentiary in Madrid, had contracted COVID-19 (Ortiz), and, on a global scale, it appeared that the intensity of the riots correlated with the degree to which prisons were over-capacity (Larrondo). In this sense, the Spanish justice system provides a worthwhile case study, illustrating that even a prison system that is not considered overcrowded, 16 within a legal system that ostensibly values prisoner rights (as indicated by the rejection of the death penalty or life sentencing), the conditions of incarceration are incommensurate with dignity and human rights.

How can prison riots in response to the insufficiencies of institutional health support constitute a crip tactic? In making this connection, I draw from McRuer's analysis of the Chilean student hunger strikes as a crip tactic, despite the fact that they did not, on the surface, appear to be related to a disability movement, but were nevertheless "haunted" by "images of disability" (107). Disability invariably echoes in carceral spaces as the pathologizing of prisoners and the over-policing of people with disabilities overlap. In recent years, disability studies scholar Liat Ben-Moshe, has noted that, despite these parallels, a disability-focused analysis has been historically absent from scholarship on incarceration. 17 While this absence holds true in both the U.S. and Spain, scholars working on the topic of prison abolition have nevertheless attended to the "biopolitics of debilitation" located in carceral spaces – that is, the wearing down of the health of targeted populations (Puar qtd. in Ben-Moshe 29). For example, César Manzanos, writing in the context of Spanish sociology, examines how the penal system simultaneously targets marginalized groups and deteriorates the physical and mental health of those incarcerated, thereby constituting a system that furthers social inequity and has resulted in the deaths of thousands of people in Spanish prisons (25). 18 Sociologist and director of the Observatory of the Penal System and Human Rights Iñaki Rivera Beiras, as well as Spanish criminologists and legal scholars Paz Frances Lecumberri and Diana Restrepo Rodríguez, likewise consider the dynamics of disability, health, and incarceration important to their arguments for prison abolition (Rivera Beiras 77-80; Frances Lecumberri and Restrepo Rodríguez 43, 84). In this way scholars writing against carceral injustice have already taken up as part of their methodology what disability studies scholar Nirmala Erevelles calls the need to examine the "historical conditions…responsible for the violent configuration of the flesh" (42).

In the context of Spain's prison riots, Erevelles's emphasis on the material creation of impairment is crucial given that carceral conditions guarantee the spread of COVID-19. Five years prior to the pandemic, a report on the Spanish penal system led by scholars at the University of Barcelona noted that the Catalan and Spanish health systems were "well-regarded … but the privatization trends and the situation after the economic crisis brought a reduction in budget which affected the access to health care for the entire population" (Fernández, Lazo, and Viader 48-50). Budget cuts and privatization (effects of the austerity movement in the past decade) created crucial points of vulnerability, but perhaps the most important lesson is that a "well-regarded" prison health system is limited by its very function. In March, the United Nations subcommittee on the prevention of torture published a statement urging all states to reduce their prison populations to the lowest possible level, given that "persons deprived of their liberty comprise a particularly vulnerable group owing to the nature of the restrictions which are already placed upon them and their limited capacity to take precautionary measures" (1, 3). While the UN emphasized that the situation was more urgent in overcrowded prisons, it is worth considering that their statement is applicable to any prison or detention center because people deprived of liberty will necessarily have a limited capacity to take measures against a public health crisis.

The possibility of contracting a virus with long-term effects also requires a rethinking of punishment. According to Chapter 3, Article 15 of the 1978 Spanish Constitution, "everyone has the right to life and to physical and moral integrity, and may under no circumstances be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading punishment or treatment." What does this codification in defense of dignity mean in practice for incarcerated people in a pandemic? Kafer's work on the temporalities of disability briefly but poignantly delves into the cultural assumption that racialized, impoverished demographics have a "future of no future," defined by death, disability, or incarceration — limited mobility through impairment or detention collapsed in an expectation of a life not worth living (33-34, 44). Although Alison Kafer writes in a U.S. context, the expansion of the U.S. carceral model in Europe 19 and the inevitable health crisis experienced by prisoners during the COVID-19 pandemic evidences the truth in her statement: the futures of prisoners are seen as disposable, already foreclosed. Even in countries with ostensibly progressive views on incarceration, such as Spain, prisoners were exposed, through insufficient protections, to a virus known to be fatal and cause long-lasting impairments. 20

A limited solution, based on UN recommendations, was partial decarceration. In the summer of 2020, over 4,000 Spanish prisoners were released, marking the decarceration of 7.4% of the prison population released into house arrest and other forms of controlled surveillance. While this is a form of harm reduction during the pandemic, Ben-Moshe proposes that bringing together carceral studies and disability studies allows us to consider how alternatives to imprisonment can "extend carceral locales" (31). She introduces the term "carceral ableism" as a way to explain activist calls to close carceral enclosures because they constitute disabling spaces. The result, she argues, is a demand for alternative forms of incarceration, which lead to the continuation of slow death across the dissemination of punitive and surveilled spaces. The "dis-epistemology" (Ben-Moshe 126) of prison abolition (that is, the awareness that abolition goes beyond decarceration and into the very values of the justice system) and "cripistemology" (Johnson and McRuer 127) of disability activists' lived experience are crucial in examining limited decarceration as crisis-response during the pandemic, as well as its implications. Within disability activism in the Spanish context, the Foro de Vida Independiente (Independent Living Forum) has demonstrated that dismantling systems of enclosure requires a re-envisioning of solutions that center agency and dignity (Planella Ribera and Pié Balaguer 58-59), as well as an awareness that carceral dynamics can materialize outside of traditionally carceral spaces (Cojos y precarias 50-51). While these are not conversations directly related to the tactic of prison riots, the demand for health in carceral spaces invokes them. Given that the international prison riots that manifested in the pandemic do not respond solely to the developing crisis, we should let them compel us to question our assumptions about prisons and punishment — and this involves thinking about the dignity of imprisoned people in alternate forms of incarceration as well.

The tactics of prison riots during the pandemic, even in their relative illegibility, 21 affirm the value of the lives of those imprisoned, while (intentionally or not) signaling that incarceration is intrinsically antithetical to a life of dignity. I refer to the illegibility of the riots to emphasize that public knowledge of the specific demands and development is unknown to the public. 22 Judith Butler’s work on public assemblies is helpful in navigating this perceived illegibility, particularly their argument that a public assembly is a performance that makes demands to be recognized and valued, even when no other demand is explicitly articulated (8, 25-26, 83-84). Through rioting, prisoners in protest can actively reclaim their denied right to public assembly, physically gathering for a common purpose in a way that may become visible to the general public, if it is disseminated by news media. 23 It is an issue of epistemic injustice that prisoners' freedom of expression through public assembly depends on the news cycle and, less visibly, the tactics of individuals and groups that share first-hand prisoner accounts with the general public — in this case, groups with connections to prisoners (Grup de Suport a Presxs, Families de Presos a Catalunya), non-profit associations (Asociación Pro Derechos Humanos de Andalucía), university research clusters (SIRECOVI), and prison abolition collectives (Salhaketa Nafarroa and Tokata).

Especially in light of these limitations in prisoner-to-public communication, it is important to recognize that "the gathering [of bodies] signifies in excess of what is said" (Butler 8). We can find important demands in the pandemic prison riots, even beyond the explicit ones articulated by imprisoned protesters. These efforts demonstrate that prisons inevitably create conditions in which socially-accepted slow violence can quicken. As far as we know, there are no explicit calls for prison abolition in these riots, but the events in themselves emphasize that so long as there are prisons, laws concerning prisoners' rights exist only tenuously. In particular, laws affirming their dignity exist primarily as empty rhetoric that cannot be mobilized without the deconstruction of the entire carceral system.

5. Redes de cuidado: Documenting Care and Vulnerability (Tactic 3)

Opposite the illegibility of prison protests, the third tactic is a photo-narrative documentation of precarity and care networks. Ciudad Violeta, a project by photojournalist Dune Solenot, clearly articulates its mission as a "photographic, narrative, and documentary project… born in the COVID-19 pandemic… a visual map that begins in Zaragoza and documents the cultures and care values, neighborhood-based affective networks, and coexistence and solidarity, as well as health and environmental education" — in short "an ecofeminist gaze in times of crisis." 24 The project, which began in March 2020 and was last updated in October 2020, includes 31 entries, a combination of photographs and short interviews that featured immigrants, health care workers, activists, small business owners, and Black Lives Matter protesters, among others. As a tactic, it "boldly juxtaposes diverse elements in order suddenly to produce a flash shedding a different light on the language of a place" (de Certeau 38). What the flash of Ciudad Violeta reveals is a vision of shared precarity that is met with networks of care — some makeshift, some working through pre-existing organizations— and the practice of documenting care and vulnerability with dignity.

Ciudad Violeta offers an opportunity to pause in the midst of shock. It exists in the panic of pandemic, but freezes it for poetic consideration to make sense of a crisis in real-time. This tactic of documenting care and vulnerability is connected to the act of becoming "shock resistant" (Klein 459). Naomi Klein's scholarship on disaster capitalism compellingly argues that neoliberalism has been able to gain the prominence and power it has through its proponents' strategy of using moments of national crisis or "shock" to push through unpopular economic policies. In her conclusion, Klein offers advice for becoming "shock resistant" (459) —by preventing the erasure of cultural memory (463). Ciudad Violeta forces its participants (interviewees and audience members) to see themselves, in the present, as part of a historical moment. The interviews interlace personal situations with clear references to the changing cultural circumstances. To offer just two examples: On May 7th, Leti, a volunteer with SOMOS LGTB+ refers to the invisibilization of immigrant trans women as a particularly vulnerable group, since many of them, particularly those in sex work, were ineligible for ERTE (temporary unemployment benefits); on October 13th, Marga, an ICU healthcare worker, reflected on the forms of grief in the first and second waves of the pandemic, adding that the hospitals were at their maximum capacity because of cut-backs in previous years. In this way, the project commits to memory the people who fall through the (intentionally-created) cracks of crisis legislation and how those cracks came to be.

As this documentation shines a light on shared precarity, modelling how care webs take shape, images of disability surge and recede throughout the project. An immigrant woman uses a cane as she gets groceries. A student activist walks with her service dog. A dog uses a wheelchair on a stroll. In an ableist culture, these markers are often visually represented through disability tokenism, a form of identity politics that can be mobilized toward pity or 'cripspiration'. Ciudad Violeta avoids this form of flattening representation through a dignifying aesthetic. Each of the images in the project is vibrant, usually flooded with natural light, the subjects of the image in focus, aware of the camera. These visual choices are necessary as the images work alongside the narratives that locate each subject in a care collective. For example, Laura the student activist, is pictured in a park, the camera angled upward as she walks toward it, smiling in a mask while Geneva, her service dog, looks into the camera. In the interview, she discusses her work with ONCE (The Spanish National Organization of the Blind), the importance of interdependence, and her hope for the community networks and increased forms of accessibility that she has noticed during the pandemic, as well as her fear of the increased policing and the war rhetoric surrounding the virus. In thinking of what it would mean to consider disability as a desirable location (Kafer 13), I imagine it would include some of the characteristics of Ciudad Violeta: representing disability as one thread in a web of care; attentive to (but not reduced to) precarity; acknowledging the reality that many people with disabilities receive and offer care. In short, representing disability candidly, in the sense of a candid photograph, in active participation of living.

In visualizing precarity and care, Ciudad Violeta imagines a new direction in feminism. A New History of Iberian Feminisms, a comprehensive anthology, does not include mentions of disability activism or studies, and concludes by asking "To what extent is it enough to limit ourselves to seeing the issues from an aesthetic, performative or merely individual-liberties point of view?… [Is] it enough to substitute a supposedly normalizing nucleus with its marginalized fragments?" (407). By attending to disability justice and care webs while identifying as a feminist project, Ciudad Violeta charts out a vision beyond individual liberties, in which "marginalized fragments" are rendered with integrity and horizontal solidarity. Creating visual and narrative documentation can commit difficult lived experiences to memory and connect them to their cultural and political causes, ultimately serving as a way to absorb collective shock (Klein 463) and to steal a look toward a future with dignity. 25

6. Conclusion

It is difficult to measure the effects of tactics precisely because they operate outside the ways in which we are accustomed to understanding success. An emergence of tactics "takes advantage of 'opportunities' and depends on them, being without any base where it could stockpile its winnings… what it wins it cannot keep" (de Certeau 37). There, for instance, is no data that qualifies as evidence in regards to whether people on therapeutic walks faced less harassment after "No es capricho. Es necesidad." If there were, it would be difficult to pin down the exact cause of this change. Whether prison protests will have any material effect in prison conditions or change cultural perspectives on carceral punishment is also difficult to ascertain. It is doubtful that any positive changes would be explicitly attributed to forms of protests deemed illicit or violent. Likewise, whether documenting care webs and attempting to make sense of a developing crisis can create a more livable community is obscured by the immeasurability of soft skills and the fact that the pandemic continues to unfold.

Nevertheless, each of these tactics center dignity and reject austerity. Seen as a constellation, they echo Klein's example of shock resistance in which Spaniards refused to allow crisis to dictate their political responses in the election following the 2004 Madrid train bombings because Prime Minister José María Aznar's call for increased military strength evoked memories of Francisco Franco's dictatorship (462-463). Rejections of austerity during the pandemic are similarly rooted in the still-felt pains of years of austerity following the global recession, as well as an awareness that its lingering effects are in large part why the pandemic has been particularly devastating in Spain. As "the economic strategy of austerity in many ways requires a cultural politics" (McRuer 56), the absence of austerity values might lead to an absence of austerity policies. Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez (formerly the Secretary-General of the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party) and Pablo Echenique, a congress member acting as speaker for the political party Podemos, have announced the "death of austerity" in Spain (Valls, "Echenique dice"). Even so, economists anticipate that Spain will be forced to turn to an austerity policy in the coming years (Pérez and Fariza). However we think of the relative success of cultural rejections of austerity, their effects and future manifestations remain to be seen.

Regardless of what the future holds, the tactics examined here open up discursive spaces to resist the cultural austerity that underlies the policing of people with disabilities and other neighbors, prisoners' rights, and the devaluation of care – and to notice the assumptions of scarcity and punishment that bind them. Immediate and lasting legislative change and sustainable mutual aid networks are necessary, but the absence of immediate empirical success does not signify failure (even if the demands are urgent), nor does it indicate that nothing has changed. Shifts in cultural values and in wide-scale epistemologies can only be traced from a distant view, but, in the present, the proliferation and intervention of crip tactics in discursive and lived spaces model a way to shape such values. It is vital that crip tactics emerge in as many ways as possible, through as many people as possible. By exploring the theoretical connections and vastly different agents and methods involved in such tactics, this article is an invitation to participate in the emergence of crip tactics, to prioritize dignity for the living in radically democratic ways—particularly in moments of intensified crisis.

Works Cited

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Endnotes

  1. All translations are mine unless otherwise indicated.
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  2. See the European Parliament resolution of 18 June 2020 (https://www.europarl.europa.eu/doceo/document/TA-9-2020-0156_EN.html)
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  3. In this essay, I continue to use "disability" rather than "functional diversity," despite my appreciation for Romañach's term. This is in part because it is a term that is almost entirely unknown in English, but also because I am not certain that "functional diversity" does in English what Romañach hoped diversidad funcional would do in Spanish. Romañach introduces personas con discapacidad funcional as an alternative to both personas con discapacidad (people with disabilities) and minusválidos (perhaps best translated as "the handicapped," though made arguably more pejorative by the fact that its etymology is construed in Spanish as "worth less"). Diversidad funcional therefore attempts to shift away from the emphasis on "ability" in "disability" and from the "value" in minusválido. My concern is that, in English, "functional diversity" might have the opposite effect, highlighting "function," as in, one's function in society. This being said, it is crucial to note that Spanish scholars who align themselves with the independent living movement do tend to use "functional diversity" when writing in English.
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  4. The quote in its entirety is as follows: "Si se comparan los elementos [del modelo de diversidad funcional] con los que conforman el modelo social y el modelo de vida independiente, se observa que algunos como la desmedicalización, la desinstitucionalización y la transversalidad, forman parte de estos modelos. Por lo tanto, lo único realmente novedoso que aporta el modelo que se intenta construir es el valor de la diversidad, el concepto de dignidad como elemento clave para la plena participación y aceptación social de las personas con diversidad funcional, y el uso de la bioética como herramienta para conseguir la plena dignidad intrínseca de las mujeres y hombres con diversidad funcional" (El modelo de la diversidad 190).
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  5. Despite Romañach's extensive overview of references to dignity in prominent legal texts such as the United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights, he eschews a definition, commenting instead that "la dignidad… es muchas cosas, muchas percepciones, y sobre todo un concepto poco simplificable" (dignity is many things, many perceptions, and above all, a difficult concept to simplify" ("El modelo" 42). Nevertheless, he offers a quote from María Teresa López de la Vieja which we can use to delineate what we can expect from "dignity": "'Dignidad' es sinónimo de libertad, de autonomia, de integridad que merece atención y respeto" (dignity is synonymous with liberty, with autonomy, with integrity worthy of attention and respect, qtd. in "El modelo" 42).
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  6. The Indignados of the anti-austerity movement in Spain also explicitly mobilized dignity as an organizational principle. As anthropologist Jaume Franquesa explains, "The indignados have mobilized an idea of dignity as vida digna. This is perhaps most evident in the Marchas de la dignidad [dignity marches] that have been organized annually since 2014 by a broad coalition of old and new socialist and anarchist organizations, small unions, and permanent assemblies created during the occupation of the plazas. The slogan of these marches—"bread, work, roof, dignity"—connects indignation with the material basis to make a livelihood, to have a vida digna" (81).
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  7. Notably, the definition lists of dignity in both the Diccionario de la Real Academia Española and the Oxford English Dictionary include the idea that dignity is exclusive, reserved as an honor associated with achieving a high rank.
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  8. At the time of writing, Spain has the highest rates of unemployment in the European Union at 16.8%. The EU average is just below 8%. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has indicated that it is unlikely Spain will achieve pre-pandemic unemployment rates until at least 2026.
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  9. These statistics were reported on July 16th, 2020 by the Spanish Confederation of Persons with Physical and Organic Disabilities (COCEMFE). For further information, consult "Efectos y consecuencias de la crisis del COVID-19 entre las personas con discapacidades" by Fundación ONCE.
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  10. The full plan is available through the website of the Sociedad Española de Medicina Intensiva, Crítica y Unidades Coronarias (SEMICYUC): https://www.semicyuc.org/covid19_files/Plan_de_Contingencia_COVID-19.pdf
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  11. To be more accurate, it is not unemployment alone that signals disposability, but rather unemployment within the context of limited social support. This is evidenced by Julia Serramitijana Casanova's Oxfam report, which predicts that the number of Spaniards who live on less than two dollars a day would rise during the pandemic by 1.1 million from the current 9.8 million.
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  12. According to a survey by Plena Inclusión in mid-April, almost 40% of people in need of therapeutic walks had abstained from them: "La mayoría de las respuestas hablan de una buena actitud tanto de vecinas y vecinos (62,2%), así como de servicios policiales (61,3%). Sin embargo, en un 14,8% de los casos fueron increpadas por otras personas y un 6,3% ha hallado impedimentos de parte de los servicios policiales. La mayoría de participantes que reseña mala actitud la describe como un trato irrespetuoso. En cuanto a quienes fueron objeto de increpaciones: 63 personas afirman haber recibido gritos, 29 fueron insultadas y a seis les tiraron objetos. Solo dos participantes afirman haber puesto una denuncia en comisaría ante estas situaciones." For more information see the article entitled "Casi un 40% de las personas con discapacidad intelectual da menos paseos terapéuticos de los que necesita."
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  13. On March 24th and 28th, respectively, El Salto and ABC ran stories on the insults and harassment suffered by children with autism and by their parents. On March 20th El mundo featured an article on police intimidation and, on April 14th, Reuters covered Plena Inlcusion's findings on interrogations and fines.
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  14. I refer here not only to the sense of economic crisis described in the introduction, but also to the decade of austerity in Spain that preceded the pandemic. Scholarship on economics and public health budget cuts to health services between 2010-2018 have had a direct correlation with the COVID-19 mortality rate in Spanish communities (Ramón-Dangla, Rico Gómez, and Issa-Khozouz). The lack or medical resources in Spain in the early months of the pandemic, while caused by economic austerity, also contributed to a cultural sense of scarcity.
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  15. The prison system in Spain is divided into two jurisdictions.
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  16. As noted by the World Prison Brief, Spain's prison population was at under 90% capacity in 2018, with a decreasing rate of incarcerated subjects.
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  17. Liat Ben-Moshe's Decarcerating Disability (2020) is the first to provide a sustained crip/mad of color approach to studies of prison abolition and psychiatric deinstitutionalization. Earlier works in disability studies that refer to the points of connection between disability and imprisonment include Nirmala Erevelles's Disability and Difference in Global Contexts (2011) and Alison Kafer's Feminist Queer Crip (2013). For other chapters and articles on incarceration and disability oppression, see Liat Ben-Moshe's "Disabling Incarceration: Connecting Disability to Divergent Confinement in the USA" (2011), Jean Stewart and Marta Russell's "Disablement, Prison, and Historical Segregation" (2001), and Disability Incarcerated (2014).
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  18. In his 2011 article, Manzanos asserted that at least 8,000 people had died in Spanish prisons in the 1990s and early 2000s.
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  19. In "Abolir el actual sístema penal," Manzanos explains how the United States penal system and model of incarceration has served as a new blueprint for the Spanish system and for other nations (27). Francés Lecumberri and Restrepo Rodríguez note that the global adoption of the North American model entangles the evolution of penitentiary systems with capitalist production (113).
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  20. It is not my intention to reproduce the mentality that a future with a disability is no future at all, but to affirm that the creation of impairment should not be used as a punishment. As Kafer notes, "there is a difference between denying necessary health care, condoning dangerous working conditions, or ignoring public health concerns (thereby causing illness and impairment) and recognizing illness and disability as part of what makes us human" (4).
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  21. In her study on COVID-19 prison riots in Italy, legal scholar Rachele Stroppa signals the unreliability of administrative accounts with regards to prison protests: "As always, any time there is an act of violence, the [carceral] institutions (not only in Italy) quickly deploy the old rhetoric of the criminalization of violence, without stopping to examine why violence occurs and what has ignited it...Nothing to critique, no bad praxis, no fault on behalf of the administration, which always performed in an exemplary way… The State decided once more to look away, growing interested in the topic only when the time came to criminalize the tipping point of desperation—more than that, the tipping point of dignity" (5, my emphasis)
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  22. In a particularly striking case, a prisoner at the Alhaurín de la Torre penitentiary in Málaga created a one-minute recording on an illicitly obtained cell phone in mid-March. His face obscured by a make-shift mask, he claims that they have been prevented from communicating with their family members and that they have not been tested or provided appropriate preventative measures despite several cases of COVID-19 in the prison, concluding that if their demands are not met, prisoners will riot and begin killing correctional officers (Cano and Frías). Prison authorities denied that the penitentiary had any cases of COVID-19 and isolated the prisoner—a denial complicated by the penitentiary's refusal a month later to administer rapid testing because they did not have enough medical staff ("La prisión"). This instance highlights the difficulty in ascertaining unmediated information about prison conditions during the pandemic.
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  23. In Notes toward a Performative Theory of Assembly, Butler proposes that hunger strikes "also constitute a form of freedom of assembly, or a form of solidarity implied by such a freedom" (136). While the hunger strike is a bodily enactment, I disagree that it can function precisely as a form of "freedom of assembly" – particularly as Butler themself notes that "the hunger strike that is not reported and represented in public space fails to convey the power of the act itself" (171). Given that my emphasis in this situation is on the visibility of gathered bodies, I maintain that riots are the primary way for demands by incarcerated people to create a visual impact comparable to that of a public assembly. Moreover, considering that the constraints of incarceration negate a right to public assembly, the illegality of the riot as a gathering speaks urgently to the limitation of prisoners' rights. Finally, it is worth nothing that, in the Spanish context, prisoner hunger strikes during the pandemic have either been less frequent or less publicized than riots.
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  24. The color violet is associated with the feminist movement in Spain.
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  25. I would be remiss to ignore the connections between this project and the alliance forged between the Agencia Precaria (a group of caregivers) and the Foro de Vida Independiente (people with disabilities fighting for dignity, liberty, and independence in assisted living). For further reading, consult Cojos y precarias: Haciendo vidas que importan, a text written collectively by members of the alliance.
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