To date, the fields of disability studies, Black Diaspora studies, and critical race studies have engaged little in intellectual exchange. While disability studies scholars have noted the lack of discussions of race within the field and have begun to engage more with blackness, Black Diaspora and critical race scholars have shown little interest in disability as social construct. This talk will introduce the audience to disability studies and explain why the field is so important for those studying the black experience in America. From the ways in which disability was used to justify slavery to the ways in which black people continue to be more prone to disability through violence, poverty, and lack of access to health care, disability studies can provide a vital framework to help us study the experience of black Americans in the past, present and future.
Sami Schalk is a member of the board of directors of the Society for Disability Studies. She is currently a doctoral candidate in Gender Studies at Indiana University, where her research focuses on the representation of (dis)ability in black women’s fiction. Her academic work has been published in the Disability Studies Quarterly and the Journal of Comparative Research in Anthropology and Sociology. Sami Schalk is also a poet and received her MFA in Creative Writing at the University of Notre Dame. She currently holds a dissertation fellowship from the American Association of University Women (AAUW).