Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Call for papers

Medical Anthropology at the Intersections: Celebrating 50 Years of Interdisciplinarity
An International Conference of the Society for Medical Anthropology

Sept 24-27, 2009 - Yale University

We are inviting participation in an organized session entitled:

Extending Disability Beyond Medicine’s Borders: A Five Fields Symphony
Lakshmi Fjord and Devva Kasnitz, Co-Organizers.Sponsored by the Disability Research Special Interest Group of the SMA

As more anthropologists include disability research in their field studies and populations, and as the interdisciplinary field of disability studies grows, the time has to come to make a better case for the significance of disability theory to anthropological canon in the five fields: cultural, linguistic, biological/physical, archaeology, and applied. An historic tie between disability and medicine, between notions of stigma and medicalization, has characterized the study of disabled people and their personhood in American anthropology. However, for people whose bodies are all too often reduced to a medical interpretation and rarely recognized for the critical lens they offer onto social inequalities and injustices, the role of critical disability theory to anthropological and interdisciplinary scholarship needs to be better understood and applied.

Over several decades, anthropologists working in diverse geographic regions have linked their field research on disability to the bread and butter issues of anthropology, including gender, “race,” ethnicity, nationalism, indigeneity, kinship, globalization, sexuality, and religion. In this session, panelists will link their current research to one or more of anthropology’s five fields, and to more encompassing interdisciplinary issues. Our aim is to initiate conversations about what disability theoretical and methodological frameworks bring to the table for anthropologists and others working within the humanities, social science, and science regarding research design, methods, and fieldwork; to theoretical understandings of social disparities and inequalities; and how different groups, from families to nations, cope with perceived embodied differences in abilities to perform linguistically, in work, in kinship expectations, in art, and all meaningful cultural domains.

Some possible topics:

* Linguistics: signed languages and identity or national language politics; speech and communication adaptations; discourse analysis; sociolinguistics; how “slowing down” for disabled people’s needs links to larger fieldwork issues about listening, watching, and being patient with respondents; ethics when working across language systems

* Citizenship and disability: the relation between nation-building projects and notions of “us” and “them”; indigeneity and personhood;

* Kinship and disability: families with disabled children, disabled parents; courtship and marriage; cross-ability marriages;

* Advocacy and “the field”: when the field is “home,” learning about disability through firsthand experience; participation in social justice movements; United Nations Treaty on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the discourse of human rights in local contexts; allyhood; links with feminist and race advocacy and histories; why advocacy is not for “special needs,” but for to redress systematic inequalities;

* Political economy of disability: links with gender, “race,” and ethnicity and immigration currently and historically; disability and work; transportation needs and economics;

* Inclusive design or universal design: architecture currently; archaeological examples from the past (or why stairs were not always the built answer); how disabled people locate cracks in systems and offer creative strategies towards inclusion for all members of societies;

* Fieldwork and ethnographic writing: autoethnography and experimentations with writing about experiential expertise;

* Applied work: medical clinics; occupational therapy and field schools; how we apply critical disability into everyday life.

Abstract information: Abstracts for papers and media presentations should be no longer than 200 words. Please send you proposed abstract to: Lakshmi Fjord:; and Devva Kasnitz:

Deadline for first drafts is April first so we can submit the session by April 15th to SMA

Once we have created the session, as per the conference instructions, we will submit your abstract as part of our session. “Abstracts for presentations to be included in pre-organized panels and workshops should be submitted together by the organizer(s), along with a panel/workshop abstract.”

Everyone submitting an abstract must complete the online registration individually by April 15th. Notification about the status of submissions will be sent out by June 30, 2009 to the e-mail address provided in the abstract.

Cell Phone: 510-206-5767

Devva Kasnitz, PhD
Institute of Urban and Regional Development
University of California, Berkeley

Eureka Home Mailing Address:1614 D St
Eureka, CA 95501
Voice: 707-443-1973