On 27th June 2018, iHuman hosted a symposium in which key international academics grappling with the relationships between disability and narrative. Our iHuman Visiting International Researcher – Dr Karim del Rocío Garzón Díaz from the Universidad del Rosario, Colombia – considered how she teaches disability studies in a faculty populated by medics and health professionals. Here she tackled a perenial problem: how does one speak of and with disability to practitioners who think they already know disability (and what is and should be known about disability)?
Karim was followed by iHuman’s very own Kirsty Liddiard who explored the research intimacies and intimate relationships that are emerging in a transdisciplinary ESRC-funded arts-informed co-produced research project, Life, Death, Disability and the Human: Living Life to the Fullest (ESRC ES/P001041/1 2017-2020). This project, led by Kirsty, explored the idea of restorying and what this concept might mean for disability research that has impacted in the worlds of young disabled people living short lives.
Tanya Titchkosky (Professor of Disability Studies at the Ontario Institute of Studies in Education at the University of Toronto) is pursing a SSHRC funded research concerned with how disability appears and disappears in the academy. In her talk, Tanya will consider the on-going framing of disability as a problem through the various ways solutions are proposed, narrated, and lived with. She reflected on the reverberations of the UN 1981 Year of Disabled Persons statement as it works disability into (and out of) the university environment. The act of inclusion, like any solution she argued, needs to be read for its generative potential of producing ways of sensing, imagining, and knowing disability. Through engaging in this kind of politics of wonder the hope is that we might surprise ourselves into new more lively relations in disability.
The final speaker, Dr. Rod Michalko from Toronto, author of numerous disability studies books, including his most recent book of fiction, _Things are Different Here_, reflected upon his years of teaching disability studies with disability. He framed his story telling as a particular practice sometimes explicitly but, more often, implicitly of framing disability in the culture in which the story appears. Finally, he called for the possibility of stories to “wreck” normalcy rather than merely disturbing, disrupting or even unsettling it.