Johns Hopkins University Press
Care Work: Dreaming Disability Justice. By Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha. Vancouver, BC: Arsenal Pulp Press, 2018. 304 pages. $17.95 (paper).
Curative Violence: Rehabilitating Disability, Gender, and Sexuality in Modern Korea. By Eunjung Kim. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2017. 312 pages. $104.95 (cloth). $27.95 (paper).
Disability and Difference in Global Contexts: Enabling a Transformative Body Politic. By Nirmala Erevelles. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011. 227 pages. $109.99 (cloth). $54.99 (paper).
The Right to Maim: Debility, Capacity, Disability. By Jasbir K. Puar. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2017. 296 pages. $99.95 (cloth). $26.95 (paper).

This is no longer a time of waiting. It is a time for the real work's urgencies. It is a time enhanced by an iron reclamation of what I call a burst of light—that inescapable knowledge, in the bone, of my own physical limitation.

—Audre Lorde, "A Burst of Light: Living with Cancer"

I would argue that disability justice is simply another term for love.

—Mia Mingus, Disability Intersectionality Summit, opening keynote, 2018

Four years after the publication of The Cancer Journals (1980), self-described "black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet" Audre Lorde received a diagnosis of liver cancer, "metastasized from the breast cancer for which [she] had had a mastectomy six years before."1 The 1988 essay "A Burst of Light: Living with Cancer" details the unfolding of her life thereafter, a record of navigating the medical-industrial complex and the body's rebellion at the height of the Reagan administration. Accordingly, the specter of the increasingly threadbare welfare state looms over Lorde's reflections: immediately after her February 1 diagnosis, she observes that the "starving old women who used to sit in broken-down [End Page 265] rooming houses waiting for a welfare check now lie under park benches and eat out of garbage bins."2 By drawing focus to the ravages of anti-welfare policy, even in the midst of diagnosis, Lorde connects her seemingly intimate experience of cancer to the material conditions—such as the withdrawal of already meager state support—that debilitate black and brown lives en masse.

In 2019, thirty years after the publication of Lorde's essay, the systemic disablement of racialized and low-income populations continues unabated. The numbers of the uninsured continue to inflate under the current administration, and for the biomedical and pharmaceutical industries, the proliferation of disability, illness, and addiction enables the further harvesting of profit. In the afterlife of Reagan, whose platform of state divestment and corporate deregulation set in motion our present health/care crisis, disability, debility, and illness have emerged as primary arenas for racialized punishment. For instance, undocumented immigrants in the United States "already have the lowest rates of healthcare utilization and the highest uninsurance rate of any group in the country. … Immigrants' ability to access healthcare has deteriorated even further due to the increased threat of deportation under the Trump regime."3 A recent forum in the Boston Review, titled "How Race Made the Opioid Crisis," discusses the relationship between racial capitalism and "racially bifurcated understandings of addiction," demonstrating how the "demonization of urban, nonwhite drug users" during the so-called War on Drugs enabled the "opening of 'white' pharmaceutical markets" that "paved the way for our current public health crisis."4 Or as Britt Rusert succinctly observes, "The pattern of profiting from racialized sickness endures, and it shows no sign of stopping."5

Given the centrality of disability, illness, and the medical-industrial complex to contemporary regimes of racial capitalism, the insights offered by disability theory feel more urgent than ever. As Lorde puts it in the epigraph above, "This is no longer a time for waiting." But historically, what has disability studies taught us about US Empire, settler colonialism, globalization, biopolitics, and political economy? What has disability studies said about welfare, immigration, labor exploitation, and police brutality? What, as the disability scholar Lezlie Frye has so provocatively asked, is the relationship between the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act, the first comprehensive civil rights law for people with disabilities, and the 1996 Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act, the Clinton-era legislation designed to "end welfare as we know it"? How do disability scholars contend with the resonances between anti-welfare rhetoric and certain strands of ADA support, which posed the legislation as vital to weaning disabled citizens off public assistance and sending them into the workforce?6 [End Page 266]

The first generation of disability studies, as numerous scholars have noted, rarely addressed this matrix of social concerns. Coming of age in the 1990s, disability studies often credited its emergence and viability to the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act, as well as to the disability rights movements in the US and UK (spearheaded by groups such as ADAPT, UPIAS, and the Rolling Quads) that made such legislation possible.7 The nod to the ADA soon became protocol in much of the field's pioneering content and, as such, largely shaped its initial theorizations of disability. Disability was thus understood in identitarian terms, as a claimable category of (minority) difference to which legal rights, accommodations, and other forms of social redress could accrue. And while this set of scholarly interventions vitally revised given conceptions of disability, moving the category away from the tyrannical purview of medical authority, this single-axis framework has its limitations: the implicit centering of whiteness, the commitment to a liberal politics of recognition and visibility, the enshrining of the agentic individual as political subject, and a rigid codification of the meaning and definition of disability, to name but a few.

In recent years, activists and scholars have begun to examine the purchase of disability politics beyond rights-based paradigms, placing disability in relationship with questions of racialization, sexuality, citizenship, transnational capital, and state violence. At the forefront of this shift is the Disability Justice movement, dreamed into being by writers, performers, poets, and activists such as Mia Mingus, Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha, Patricia Berne, Leroy Moore, Eli Clare, and Aurora Levins Morales.8 Disability justice orients its politics around the most marginalized within disability communities—the queer, trans, gender-nonconforming/noncompliant, undocumented, incarcerated, houseless, black, brown, indigenous, working-class, and working poor members for whom legal rights are inaccessible. Displacing single-axis frameworks in favor of coalitional struggle, a disability justice perspective contends that we "cannot comprehend ableism without grasping its interrelations with heteropatriarchy, white supremacy, colonialism, and capitalism."9 It thus enacts what Cathy Cohen termed "a left framework of politics," insofar as it "makes central the interdependency among multiple systems of domination."10

This review essay maps a cross-section of this emergent wave of disability thought, represented by recent publications from Nirmala Erevelles, Jasbir Puar, Eunjung Kim, and Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha. Far from exceptions to the field, these works signal the advent of a new generation of disability theorists—Sami Schalk, Julie Avril Minich, Lezlie Frye, Liat Ben-Moshe, Cynthia Wu, and Therí Pickens among them—that constitute a renewed disability studies grounded in queer, feminist, decolonial, and critical ethnic [End Page 267] methodologies. My essay refuses to attach modifiers such as queer, feminist, critical ethnic, and decolonial to this body of work, even though these terms offer accurate descriptions of the work's scholarly aims and stakes. I bypass these terms not to deny the presence or potency of these fields but to declare that this work is disability studies, full stop. As these books make evident, this is the state of the field.

Published nearly a decade ago, Erevelles's pathbreaking Disability and Difference in Global Contexts: Enabling a Transformative Body Politic envisioned some of the key shifts in disability studies that have since transformed the field's central questions and political commitments. I begin with Erevelles's book, though it predates the other reviewed works by several years, because it is perhaps the most foundational text in this body of scholarship. As one of the earliest full-length monographs to connect disability with questions of race and political economy, it made possible much of the work currently unfolding at the nexus of disability and racial capitalism. Indeed, Erevelles's chief intervention in Disability and Difference is the foregrounding of transnational capitalism as primary framework and referent for disability analysis, a departure from an often US/UK-centric disability studies implicitly oriented around the nation-state. In expanding the field's geopolitical reach, she further considers disability's relationship to other categories of difference (race, gender, sexuality) as they inform and are shaped by the exigencies of globalization. The book's project thus diverges from a project of inclusion and accommodation, one anchored in the values of visibility, representation, and pride. As Erevelles provocatively asks in the book's introduction, "How is disability celebrated if its very existence is inextricably linked to the violence of social/economic conditions of capitalism?" (17).

Such a question unsettles the given understandings of disability that have come to govern the field. Traversing an ambitious scope of topics, from the transatlantic slave trade to the school-to-prison pipeline, from the violence of imperialism to the geopolitics of caregiving, Disability and Difference demonstrates how considerations of race, political economy, and economic inequity necessarily unmoor disability from its identitarian foundations. Erevelles's analysis, for instance, pushes against the all-too-frequent theorization of disability as "possibility rather than a limit," highlighting how utopian discourses of disability identity can too easily occlude the material and economic conditions creating disablement on a global scale (17). This assertion further critiques the tendency—ever present in the first waves of disability scholarship—to abstract disability from the conditions of its own making in order to focus instead on its transformative, radical, and universalist potential. [End Page 268]

Employing a historical-materialist framework as its chief methodology, Disability and Difference instead insists on situating disability in the social, economic, and historical contexts that produce it, highlighting the global inequities of power that disable some populations more readily than others. For Erevelles, disability is not a "condition of being, but of becoming, and this becoming is a historical event" (27). That is, in the context of transnational capitalism, disability operates less as a static category of identity—a descriptor of what someone is—and more as a process, an unfolding, an ongoing event that captures the "materiality of racialized violence" under the demands of capital (26).

Disability and Difference stages a range of encounters between disability theory and decolonial, Marxist, and feminist-of-color thought, and follows a trajectory of local to global—the first half of the book examines questions of captivity, incarceration, and education in the US context, while the second half considers the relationship of disability to globalization, "third world feminism," transnational care labor, and citizenship (22). Erevelles, notably, does not position any single framework as issuing the ultimate corrective; rather, she places these seemingly disparate theories in dialogue in order to map their resonances, tensions, and potential for mutual transformation. Further, she points up the potential and presence of disability in decolonial, Marxist, and feminist-of-color theories. One of the most significant projects of Disability and Difference, then, is its gesture toward an alternate intellectual genealogy for disability studies. Consider, for instance, Erevelles's vital crip analysis of Hortense Spillers's now canonical "Mama's Baby, Papa's Maybe: An American Grammar Book," in which she positions "Mama's Baby" as a rich and overlooked site of disability theorization. In Erevelles's rereading of this essay, the scenes of dismemberment and mutilation narrated by Spillers become instrumental to the commodification of enslaved bodies—or, in other words, "it is in becoming disabled that the black body is at the height of its profitability" (39). What would it mean, this chapter asks, if a scholar such as Spillers—associated with the adjacent tradition of black feminist thought—were to be considered part of disability's intellectual lineage? How would this disrupt not only the field's narrative of origin but also the ways we have come to define disability itself?

Puar's The Right to Maim: Debility, Capacity, Disability builds on Disability and Difference by engaging in a related (but nonetheless crucial) project of field disruption and revisioning. Definition, however, is not the political aim of this book.11 Like Erevelles, Puar is "less interested in what disability is (or is not), less interested in adding to the registers of disability … and more driven by the question: what does disability do?" (xx). Drawing from affect [End Page 269] and critical ethnic studies, The Right to Maim positions disability in relationship to the coordinates of debility and capacity—the triangulation and assemblage that anchors the book's argument—in order to disrupt the too easy binary of disabled/nondisabled undergirding liberal regimes of recognition, rights, and visibility. The disabled/nondisabled binary, as Puar points out, obscures the ways in which access to the category of disability can actually function as a form of capacitation or enablement, insofar as disability—as diagnosis, as identity category—enables access to necessary social, material, and medical resources for those who can claim it. Further, it fails to serve those who disproportionately experience debilitation, but for whom disability as a legal or rights-bearing category is not available, much less the salve of health care. Debility, according to Puar, attends to the structural violence that renders "injury or bodily exclusion" much more likely for certain populations than others—it is the shadow self or infrastructure upholding a disability rights framework that champions capacitation, accommodation, and inclusion (xvii).

The constellation of disability/debility/capacity outlined in The Right to Maim emerges out of necessity from the conditions of settler colonialism, US empire building, the "work machine," and the "war machine" that need "bodies … preordained for injury and maiming" (65). Identitarian concepts of disability have little traction in these settings, and in fact obscure the workings of what Puar terms the "biopolitics of debilitation" (72). This term usefully foregrounds the populations "made available and targeted for injury" (i.e., the process of debilitation), as well as the purposeful production of debilitation as a tactical means of "[creating] and [precaritizing] populations and maintaining them as such" (73). It further highlights the relationship between capacitated populations and debilitated ones, a distinction that often maps onto global North and South, in which "the global north holds the key to the liberalization of disability while the global south bears the brunt of its weaponization" (66). The biopolitics of debilitation thus offers vital interventions into theories of disability, race, and biopolitics: (1) it enables scholars to shift focus from the disabled individual (a push that other disability scholars have also deemed necessary) to the "precarity of populations," thereby framing precarious populations—the disenfranchised communities of global South and North—as the basis for, rather than the exception to, theorizations of disability; and (2) it nuances ongoing debates around bio/necropolitics by introducing another element into the poles of life and death that govern such conversations: the production of disability and debilitation as "biopolitical ends unto themselves" (72, xvii).

The "right to maim" describes the production of disability/debilitation as biopolitical aims and, further, names a key tactic deployed by the Israeli settler [End Page 270] state in its occupation of Palestine. The chapters on Israel/Palestine are among the strongest in the book, showcasing the utility of disability/debility analysis for scholars of settler colonialism and empire. As Puar argues, maiming is often framed as a more humanitarian strategy on the part of the settler state because it spares populations from death—from being targets of the right to kill. However, the right to maim remains related to the right to kill, not due to a difference in gradations of mercy, but because both imperatives work in service of the "racializing biopolitical logic of security," a logic that deploys death and disability as the embodied evidence of a near-totalizing will to power (x).

While Puar's book underscores the imperative to maim and its relationship to settler regimes of debilitation, Kim's Curative Violence: Rehabilitating Disability, Gender, and Sexuality in Modern Korea takes as its subject the imperative to cure, a condition or process often placed in binaristic opposition to disability/debility. Curative Violence troubles this seemingly oppositional relationship, emphasizing instead the persistent presence of disability within the "drama of cure," as well as the "in-between spaces" where "cure and disability coexist as a process" (7, 9). Kim's exploration of cure as a messy, nonlinear process—one that unfolds alongside and through disability—thus intervenes in a disability studies that has historically refused to engage at length with cure, and has understood it uniformly as a way to negate disabled existence.12 However, as Kim argues, "simply objecting to cure as a way to affirm disabled embodiment does not capture the way that individuals make complicated moral, economic, and relational decisions to alter their bodies" (14).

Curative Violence thus does the important theoretical work of delving into the complications of cure. It contests the dominant narrative of cure as a teleological journey with a clear end-goal, conceptualizing it instead as a "transaction" or "negotiation" of potential risks, benefits, and harms taken on by bodies seeking transformation (10). In this way, Kim's project mirrors Puar's, insofar as it also seeks to disrupt the all-too-easy binary between disabled and nondisabled. Curative violence, in particular, describes the harms generated through the imperative of cure, capturing the instances when cure "is what actually frames the presence of disability as a problem" and in fact "[destroys] the subject in the curative process" (Kim 14). The book explores this phenomenon of curative violence in the context of modern Korea, looking to cultural representations of disability and medical intervention in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. In so doing, it examines the significance of curative rhetoric for a nation grappling with the ongoing effects of war, US militarism, IMF interference, and colonial domination. Curative rhetoric, in a Korea following "Independence, the division, and the Korean War," is [End Page 271] often tied explicitly to the "rehabilitation of the disabled nation," in which cure translates to decolonization and sovereignty under the aegis of capitalist development (19).

Like Erevelles, Curative Violence draws on the insights of transnational and decolonial feminist frameworks in its theorization of disability, displacing the US nation-state as primary site of inquiry. Kim pays particular attention to cure's interconnections with gender and sexual regulation, mapping out how these systems of domination work together to discipline Korean populations. Accordingly, the chapters of Curative Violence take up questions of eugenics, reproductive control/coercion, motherhood, filial piety, and care as they intersect with national and popular narratives around rehabilitation, healing, and proper embodiment. Reading against the grain of these filmic and literary texts, many of which frame disability as a problem to overcome, Curative Violence also integrates into its analysis the movements organized by disabled women activists who "advocate for livable lives free of violence" (38). It describes, for instance, the gratitude of Bae Bogjoo, a "longtime leader in the disabled woman's movement," for refusing a surgery that would later cause chronic pain for those who had received it—an encapsulation of the violence and harm that is often endured in the pursuit of cure (225). In this way, Kim challenges long-standing narratives that view non-Western nations as less enlightened in terms of gender, sexuality, and disability, or that frame disability as universal across time and space, offering instead a nuanced portrait of disability oppression and resistance in the context of postcolonial Korea.

Ultimately, Kim asks us what it would look like to inhabit the disabled present, contesting the temporality of cure that either orients us toward the future—the hope for a cured body—or toward the nostalgia of a pre-disabled past. This would, out of necessity, orient us differently toward disability, not as an experience best left in the past, but as a present, persistent, and "disruptive vulnerability that refuses to disappear."13 This would further allow us to embrace the crip here and now, and, against the imperatives of cure, envision a crip future.14 After all, "to rethink cure is to unfold the past, present, and future in order to recognize the presences of disabilities and to create spaces for them" (Kim 41).

While all three publications offer vital interventions into a disability studies long dominated by single-issue politics, they all focus, to a greater or lesser degree, on the (curative) violence, death dealing, and domination enforced by regimes of disablement and debilitation, leaving room for little else. Of course, centering race, class, gender, and sexuality in disability studies requires that we consider the uneven distribution of disability under racial capitalism, [End Page 272] and the fissures between those populations hailed by disability inclusion and those "made available and targeted for injury" (72). These publications also issue necessary correctives to a field that, in its insistent recuperation of disabled identity, often disregarded disability's overlap with state violence, labor exploitation, and other forms of structural dispossession. But even in these end times, can disability signal something other than the willful undoing of vulnerable populations? What might it teach us about the willful revitalization of vulnerable populations, about a world in which everyone has access to life-giving resources? What can disability tell us about survival, renewal, and collectivity? About joy, rest, pleasure, and care?

As Piepzna-Samarasinha's game-changing Care Work: Dreaming Disability Justice teaches us, the celebration of disabled ingenuity, skills, and knowledge is not the sole purview of disability rights. Drawing from the collective wisdom of the Disability Justice movement, of which Piepzna-Samarasinha is a part, Care Work emerges from the intersection of disability justice and "queer femme emotional labor," highlighting the array of material, embodied tasks that simply make life more possible (25). It frames the on-the-ground and undervalued work of care—the text to make sure that someone is okay, the coordination of take-out meals, the "[lifting of] each other onto a toilet or a scooter"—as a central practice of movement building, as the movement in and of itself, and "not a sideline or an afterthought" (35, 143). In so doing, the book willfully interrupts ableist, misogynist, and femme-phobic narratives of care as an unskilled form of labor, as an "isolating, begrudgingly done task," or as work tangential or supplementary to the "actual" work of radical organizing (46). In their stead, Care Work proffers a crip, femme-of-color ethos that frames care, particularly care directed toward the renewal of black, brown, indigenous, sick, disabled, queer, trans, and gender-nonconforming people, as a potential "site of pleasure, joy, [and] community building" (46).

Under an administrative regime whose structural attempts to kill sick and disabled people (through attacks on Medicaid, the Affordable Care Act, and the ADA) feel apocalyptic, Care Work reminds us of disability's generative and life-saving properties: the wild and vital femme-of-color disability justice genius that could provide a blueprint for survival in end times. This genius might look like the crip knowledge shared at the apex of the 2017 wildfires in the Pacific Northwest—information on how to make HEPA air filters from a "furnace filter and a box fan," where to get an air break from unending pollution, which detox herbs work best (136). It might look like the "crip emotional intelligence" of "understanding the terror of ODSP or SSDI reviews, the food stamp office lines," or of "sharing resources and showing up" (71). It might [End Page 273] look like a list of tips for chronically ill touring artists, or anyone who has to travel extensively with a body that would prefer otherwise. Or it might look like a book of essays that ping joyously from theories of care labor to herbal detox remedies to meditations on Gloria Anzaldúa and Prince as crip-of-color ancestors, a book that "leaves evidence," in the words of Mia Mingus, that disability justice has arrived.15

In addition to extolling disabled brilliance, Care Work deals centrally with the conundrums of care in the afterlife of major welfare reform or, as Lorde puts it, the "economics of disease in america," where "the first consideration concerning [illness] is not what does this mean in my living, but how much is this going to cost?"16 Disability justice, to cite Patty Berne, addresses the people who live in the "cliffhangers" left by the disability rights movement—those with complex relationships to the state-funded attendant support fought for by disability rights activists, and those who cannot launch a particular critique of medical knowledge due to limited access to formalized health care. That is, the challenge to medical authority issued by early disability scholars and activists, while warranted, presumes a familiarity with doctors and hospitals that many take for granted. Care Work, as Piepzna-Samarasinha writes, is for "disabled people whose disability the state never approves of—so it's not 'real'" (40). For "everyone who desperately needs care but will never let a care worker in their house for fear they or their children will be taken away by the state" (37). For those who are "continuously worrying about what happens when our precarious right to state-funded care goes away, and what our survival strategies will be then" (40). Further, it addresses the exploitative histories of care labor experienced by black and brown communities, as those who have often occupied the positions of poorly paid state-funded attendants or home health aides, and who have historically been forced to direct their care work toward the reproduction of white families. Far from unilaterally celebrating care, Piepzna-Samarasinha boldly contends with the moments where care becomes a weapon of violence, control, and abuse, a scenario all too familiar for disabled people with few resources (and even for the ones who have them).

But how can we obtain the disabled support we need when state systems have failed us, and when crowd-sourced health care (like GoFundMe campaigns) provides incomplete solutions, placing the onus of care on the disabled individual? How can we access it on our own terms, and with a mind-set of joy and abundance? Piepzna-Samarasinha (modestly) proposes, first, the collective access, mutual aid–oriented model of care webs, a community-based resource sharing practice controlled "by the needs and desires of the disabled people running them," and second, a "fair trade emotional labor economy, centered [End Page 274] by disabled, femme of color, working-class/poor genius" (41, 138). Of course, as she concedes, while "state systems are failing … 'community' is not a magic unicorn, a one-stop shop that always helps us do the laundry and be held in need" (35). Community cannot fill all the gaps, in part because one's popularity and ability to maintain friendships should not determine access to care, and in part because people are people and inevitably cause harm, even with the best intentions. Yet care webs and fair-trade emotional labor economies enable us to envision and enact the kind of world we want to inhabit, one in which care labor receives due respect, and where we embrace "the radical notion that everyone deserves basic income, care, and access. Everyone. Including people you don't like" (77). Because collective access is "revolutionary love without charity," and ushers in a world where everyone can get what they need, everyone can have joy and rest, and there is more than enough (33).

What, then, can disability studies tell us about US Empire, settler colonialism, globalization, biopolitics, and political economy? About welfare, immigration, labor exploitation, and police brutality? And now, about joy, rest, renewal, and care? As these publications make evident, it can teach us so much. So much.

Jina B. Kim

Jina B. Kim is assistant professor of English and the Program for the Study of Women and Gender at Smith College. Her research interests engage the intersection of critical disability studies, feminist and queer of color critique, and contemporary ethnic American literature. She is currently at work on a manuscript that develops a crip of color critique framework in order to analyze the literary-cultural afterlife of 1996 US welfare reform.


1. Audre Lorde, "A Burst of Light: Living with Cancer," I Am Your Sister: Collected and Unpublished Writings of Audre Lorde, ed. Rudolph P. Byrd, Johnetta Betsch Cole, and Beverly Guy-Sheftall (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009), 81.

2. Lorde, 84.

3. Beatrix Hoffman, "Undocumented, Uninsured, Unafraid," Dissent 65.2 (2018): 34.

4. Donna Murch, "How Race Made the Opioid Crisis," Boston Review: A Political and Literary Forum, August 27, 2019.

5. Britt Rusert, "How Race Made the Opioid Crisis," Boston Review: A Political and Literary Forum, August 27, 2019.

6. I derive this question from observations and arguments put forward in Samuel Bagenstos's article "The Americans with Disabilities Act as Welfare Reform," William and Mary Law Review 921 (2003): 44; and Lezlie Frye's dissertation, "Birthing Disability, Reproducing Race: Uneasy Intersections in Post–Civil Rights Politics of U.S. Citizenship" (PhD diss., New York University, 2016).

7. For more evidence of the ADA's shaping impact on disability studies, see Lennard Davis, "Introduction: The Need for Disability Studies," in The Disability Studies Reader, ed. Lennard Davis (New York: Routledge, 1997), 1–8; Sharon L. Snyder, Brenda Jo Brueggemann, and Rosemarie Garland-Thomson, "Introduction: Integrating Disability into Teaching and Scholarship," in Disability Studies: Enabling the Humanities, ed. Sharon L. Snyder, Brenda Jo Brueggemann, and Rosemarie Garland-Thomson (New York: MLA Press, 2002), 1–14; Simi Linton, Claiming Disability: Knowledge and Identity (New York: New York University Press, 1998); David T. Mitchell and Sharon L. Snyder, eds., The Body and Physical Difference: Discourses of Disability (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1997); Lennard Davis, Enforcing Normalcy: Disability, Deafness, and the Body (New York: Verso, 1995).

8. I should note that activists in the Disability Justice movement have rightfully voiced critiques of academe, so while much of the critical ethnic/feminist/queer disability scholarship I cite aligns with a disability justice framework, I want to be clear that disability justice is by and large understood as an activist and movement-building framework.

9. Patty Berne, "Disability Justice—a Working Draft," Sins Invalid: An Unashamed Claim to Beauty in the Face of Invisibility, June 10, 2015,

10. Cathy Cohen, "Punks, Bulldaggers, and Welfare Queens: The Radical Potential of Queer Politics?," GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies 3.4 (1997): 437–65.

11. The Right to Maim further points out that debates over the definition of disability—the policing of "what it is, who or what is responsible for it, how one lives it"—is another way to center whiteness in the conversation (xix).

12. This tendency, however, has begun to shift. Eli Clare's Brilliant Imperfection: Grappling with Cure offers a robust mapping of disability's complicated relationship to cure.

13. Nirmala Erevelles, "Thinking with Disability Studies," Disability Studies Quarterly 34.2 (2014),

14. For a book-length exploration of crip futurity as concept, see Alison Kafer, Feminist, Queer, Crip (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2013).

15. "Leaving Evidence" is the title of the disability justice activist Mia Mingus's blog.

16. Lorde, "Burst of Light," 122.

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