Purpose – This chapter examines the ways in which community has been discussed and pursued within American disability politics. It shows the various, often contradictory…
Purpose – This chapter examines the ways in which community has been discussed and pursued within American disability politics. It shows the various, often contradictory, understandings of community in play and examines the strengths and weaknesses of various strategies used to create community.
Methodology/approach – Using comparative historical techniques of analysis, this chapter compares different conceptualizations of community as they are used by activists and in policies.
Findings – While “community” is often an ideal embedded in activists' aspirations, historically it has meant very different things. The assumptions embedded in the idea of community affect the strategies and policies pursued by activists.
Practical and social implications – Each strategy to pursue community has advantages and disadvantages. Community as place leads to clear policy objectives, but often fails to achieve meaningful relational transformations. Community as social capital focuses on building social relationships, but leaves unaddressed membership in the national community and issues of citizenship. Ideals of community based on insider/outsider distinctions can be effective at unifying a group, but encourages the exclusion of others. Community as social citizenship demands the state uphold a commitment to support all citizens, but is often politically unpalatable. These ideas of community are often used together, sometimes to build upon one another, and other times in ways that are contradictory.
Originality/value of the chapter – Community is a lauded yet elusive goal. This chapter contributes to our understanding of disability politics and the tensions in creating “community.”
Purpose: Artists with disabilities use their bodies and minds to create art. Yet, the prevailing cultural narrative that art is “therapeutic” for people with disabilities shifts…
Purpose: Artists with disabilities use their bodies and minds to create art. Yet, the prevailing cultural narrative that art is “therapeutic” for people with disabilities shifts attention from their creative accomplishments to their disabilities. Some ally organizations attempt to challenge the narrative that art is merely therapy for people with disabilities. However, drawing on narratives of “helping” people with disabilities attracts funding. This chapter examines how organizations navigate empowering allies while still maintaining funding.
Methods/Approach: This chapter uses narrative analysis of material accessed through a nonprofit arts-based disability ally organization's website to address two research questions: 1. How do ally organizations both draw on and resist cultural narratives of disability in order to garner public support?; and 2. How do personal narratives of disabled artists associated with ally organizations support and/or resist organizational and cultural narratives about the connection between disability and art?
Findings: The organization uses narratives to address important and sometimes conflicting goals. Personal narratives from artists with disabilities that are available through the website tell a range of stories about art and disability. The organization draws on these heterogeneous stories to position itself as an ally. By including such personal narratives on its website, the organization challenges the cultural narrative that the art produced by disabled artists is merely therapeutic.
Implication/Value: Much of the work on allyship focuses on how individuals can be allies. Examining ways in which organizations frame themselves as allies can help us to more fully understand allyship on multiple levels of social life.
Purpose: This chapter proposes narrative allyship across ability as a practice in which nondisabled researchers work with disabled nonresearchers to co-construct a process that…
Purpose: This chapter proposes narrative allyship across ability as a practice in which nondisabled researchers work with disabled nonresearchers to co-construct a process that centers and acts on the knowledge contained in and expressed by the lived experience of the disabled nonresearchers. This chapter situates narrative allyship across ability in the landscape of other participatory research practices, with a particular focus on oral history as a social justice praxis.
Approach: In order to explore the potential of this practice, the author outlines and reflects on both the methodology of her oral history graduate thesis work, a narrative project with self-advocates with Down syndrome, and includes and analyzes reflections about narrative allyship from a self-advocate with Down syndrome.
Findings: The author proposes three guiding principles for research as narrative allyship across ability, namely that such research further the interests of narrators as the narrators define them, optimize the autonomy of narrators, and tell stories with, instead of about, narrators.
Implications: This chapter suggests the promise of research praxis as a form of allyship: redressing inequality by addressing power, acknowledging expertise in subjugated knowledges, and connecting research practices to desires for social change or political outcomes. The author models methods by which others might include in their research narrative work across ability and demonstrates the particular value of knowledge produced when researchers attend to the lived expertise of those with disabilities. The practice of narrative allyship across ability has the potential to bring a wide range of experiences and modes of expression into the domains of research, history, policy, and culture that would otherwise exclude them.