Feminist Disability Studies: Theoretical Debates, Activism, Identity Politics, & Coalition Building

Knoll, K. R. (2012). Feminist disability studies : theoretical debates, activism, identity politics, & coalition building. University of Washington.

Through two intellectual and activist spaces that are fraught with identity politics, people from feminist and disability studies circles have converged in unique ways that have assisted in addressing the gaps in their respective fields. Although not all feminist disability studies scholars are comfortable with defining feminist disability studies or having an established doctrine that sets the field apart, my eleven interviews with people whose work spans feminist and disability studies demonstrates a presence of, and the need for, a feminist disability studies area of study. Utilizing feminist and disability studies literature and reflections by the participants, I argue that feminist disability studies engages with theories that may be contradictory and incomplete. This process has the potential to reveal power, privilege, and oppression, and therefore, it can provide opportunities for liberation. Methods in feminist disability studies emphasize the necessity of considering both disability studies and feminist perspectives while resisting essentialism in order to allow new identities to surface. In addition, feminist disability studies addresses why activism must be made accessible in order to fight ableism and to support work across identity-based groups. Therefore exactly how we work together across identities and identity groups is of paramount importance for our anti-oppression work. This multifaceted process has given rise to an amorphous, porous, and yet burgeoning, area of study that is providing new insights and tools for working across minority groups.

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