I was so lucky to be in Prague last week to take part in a single-stream conference, Decolonizing Disability Theory I: Cripping Development. As an ethnographer recording disabled experience in Russia, the opportunity to engage disability theory in the actual space of Eastern Europe was not only much needed, but exceeded all expectations.
From an opening night in which Anastasia Kayiatos and Robert McRuer engaged a performance art piece Haute Coutures 01 Fires to challenge disability theory to encompass the ways in which neoliberalism and global chains of production create illogical convergences of bodies at work, to myriad social encounters, to a queer/crip dance, the event was simply unsurpassed.
In presenting new work considering the ways in which crip theory does and does not translate into the Russian context, I received comments and responses that opened up new space to think through how activists and academics speak to one another, and how Western scholarship remains in many ways a colonizing discourse.
I feel so lucky to have shared the floor with copanelists Sue Schweik (UC Berkeley) and Robert McRuer (George Washington); I am grateful for their phenomenal papers interrogating crip idioms in international contexts, and for their thoughtful and supportive feedback. Also, I am grateful to my dear friend Anastasia Kayiatos for camaraderie and her peerless mind, to Mel Chen for engaging with my project, and to Chris Chapman for insisting on the necessity of illogical responses to interpellating one’s own role in systemic oppression. From the deepest wells of gratitude, I am blown away by the emotive, challenging, and thoughtful critiques that Eastern European activists (including members of the 3a3or group) brought to bear on my work.
And most of all, I am grateful to Kateřina Kolářová and Katharina Wiedlack for bringing this conference into being, and creating a space to create productive ruptures that might shift our paradigms.