Contemporary Feminisms: Disability — Nirmala Erevelles and Therí Pickens

Dr. Nirmala Erevelles (University of Alabama), “Thinking Relationally Through Transnational Materialist Feminist Disability Studies”

“In this presentation, I utilize a relational analysis at the intersections of race, gender, sexuality, and disability to explain the conceptual import of a Transnational Materialist Feminist Disability Studies. Drawing on examples such as the transnational slave trade, reproductive injustice against incarcerated Indigenous women and the economic violence against women women workers on the global assemble line, I will argue that a relational analysis from a Transnational Materialist Feminist Disability Studies enables us the build coalitions that are accountable to intersectional difference.”

Nirmala Erevelles is Professor of Social and Cultural Studies in Education at the University of Alabama. Her teaching and research interests lie in the areas of disability studies, critical race theory, transnational feminism, sociology of education, and postcolonial studies. Specifically, her research focuses on the unruly, messy, unpredictable and taboo body – a habitual outcast in educational (and social) contexts. Erevelles asks: Why do some bodies matter more than others? In raising this question “why,” the tenor of her scholarship shifts from description to explanation to highlight the implications exploitative social/economic arrangements have for making bodies matter (or not) in particular historical and material contexts. Her insistence on an intersectional analysis foregrounds the dialectical relationship between disability and the other constructs of difference, namely race, class, gender, and sexuality and its brutal implications for (disabled) students in U. S. public schools and (disabled) citizens in transnational contexts.

Erevelles has published articles in the American Educational Research Journal, Educational Theory, Studies in Education and Philosophy, the Journal of Curriculum Studies, Teachers College Record, Disability & Society, Disability Studies Quarterly, the Journal of Literary and Cultural Disability Studies, Punishment and Society, and African American Review among others. Her book, Disability and Difference in Global Contexts: Towards a Transformative Body Politic was published by Palgrave in November 2012. This book was awarded the Critic’s Choice Award from the American Educational Studies Association She is currently working on a book-length manuscript tentatively entitled Cripping Empire: Theorizing Intersectionality as if Black/Brown/Disabled Lives Matter

Dr. Erevelles has twice been the finalist for the Last Lecture Award (2009, 2015) at the University of Alabama. She was awarded the Nelly Rose McCrory Faculty Excellence Award for Exemplary Research in the College of Education in April 2015 and the University of Alabama President’s Research Award in January 2016.

Dr. Therí Pickens (Bates College), “Reading Mad Black Women”

“Since reading race, gender, and disability requires more than locating their instantiations in the archive, I focus on what it requires to create dialogue among them and usefully entangle the dialogue they already create. Specifically, I turn to Octavia Butler’s Fledging to perform a close reading of her text, one that reveals how our reading strategies must change when we encounter madness, blackness, and womanhood.”
Therí A. Pickens received her undergraduate degree in Comparative Literature from Princeton University (P’05) and her PhD in Comparative Literature from UCLA (2010). Her research focuses on Arab American and African American literatures and cultures, Disability Studies, philosophy, and literary theory.

Her first book New Body Politics: Narrating Arab and Black Identity in the Contemporary United States (Routledge, 2014), which asks: How does a story about embodied experience transform from mere anecdote to social and political critique? She ushered in a new set of conversations about Blackness and Disability when she guest edited the 50th anniversary issue of African American Review.

Her critical work has appeared in a host of critical journals including Hypatia, MELUS,Journal of Literary and Cultural Disability Studies, Disability Studies Quarterly, Al-Jadid,Women & Performance, and the Journal of Ethnic American Literature. She also published in the ground-breaking collection, Blackness and Disability: Critical Examinations and Cultural Interventions, and the critical volume, Defying the Global Language: Perspectives in Ethnic Studies (Teneo Ltd).


Date(s) - Sep 28
4:00 pm - 5:30 pm

Kirkland Room, EUC


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