The Wits Centre for Diversity Studies (WiCDS) will host an international conference on 1, 2 and 3 October 2019 at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg on the theme, Disabling Normativities.
For people who fit comfortably within the normative orders of society, it may be difficult to recognize that there is any problem with the status quo. Globally, however, people in bodies, places, histories and experiences that do not afford the power and the privilege of the normative find their life conditions and opportunities constrained, limited and subject to dehumanization, abjection, violence, exclusion and marginalisation. The field of Critical Disability Studies has recognized the disabling dynamics that the norm performs on those it renders non-normative, the abnormal, in order to keep the prevailing order in place.
This conference wishes to take the notion of the disabling effects of normative orders seriously and engage how these dynamics may be discerned in operation across and within dimensions of difference. In another sense of the theme, Disabling Normativities, we also seek to ask questions on how we may reduce the debilitating effects of normative social relations. It may be correct to assume that social relations will always tend to establish norms but how may such power be relativized, contained or rendered permeable?
Our conference seeks to understand what we can learn if we use the concept of disabling as a template to explore all aspects of the normative. We are interested in conceptual questions but also in quotidian experiences that illustrate abling and disabling in relation to normative orders. We hope to receive abstracts covering a wide range of diversity axes, including the most researched such as race, class, gender, sexuality, age, religion, nation, and of course disability, but also relations of unequal power less often scrutinized.
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