Living with (and without) the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA): Reflections, Refractions, and Reactions in Disability History

AHA Session 49
Friday, January 2, 2015: 3:30 PM-5:30 PM
Concourse D (New York Hilton, Concourse Level)
Frances L. Bernstein, Drew University
“Acts” of Disability Politics in Francophone African Literature and Film
Julie Nack Ngue, University of Southern California
The End of Normal?
Michael A. Rembis, University at Buffalo (State University of New York)

Session Abstract

This comparative and interdisciplinary panel reflects on the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Asking whether the ADA should be the model for disability rights everywhere, panelists explore the varying meanings of disability in various historical and cultural contexts, ranging from the United States, to sub-Saharan Africa, and the Ottoman Arab world. Exploring the Bay area disability rights movement, contemporary legal reforms in Eastern and Southern Africa, Ottoman Arab texts, twentieth century Francophone African literature, and the formation of a critical materialist disability studies, the panel challenges the Eurocentrism implicit in the field of disability studies. Bringing together insights from history, literature, and cultural studies, we ask, are there still stories that cannot be told within the standard narrative account of the ADA? In so doing,  the panel hopes to contribute both a Western and non-Western perspective to the question of whether the strategies employed by disability rights activists in the United States are universally legible both within and outside of the North American context.

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