Theorising ableism in academia
Claudia Gillberg and the Institute of Education at University College London are collaborating in the study "The significance of crashing past keepers of academic knowledge", that is a part of the project "Theorising Ableism in Academia".
Abstract: The purpose of this paper is to present a feminist-pragmatist philosophical argument as to the significance of broadening the body of mainstream academic knowledge. Academia has historically been slow in adjusting its body of knowledge in the light of societal, technological, political and other developments and their grassroots movements. Even in the 21st century, Jane Addams’ research-based calls for social justice, improved living conditions, and quality education seem almost subversive, academics are still debating whether activism should inform theories. Scholarship on the part of non-traditional ‘knowers’ has always been infused with difficulties and struggles for them to overcome barriers to participation and recognition, in a literal, epistemological and ontological sense. Nancy Fraser's concept of recognition and Jane Addams' concept of research-based activism for social change inform the overarching theoretical framework within which a dialogue is conducted between crip theorist Alison Kafer, disabled by chronic disease academic Susan Wendell, and scholarly activists about the meaning of participation and change through knowledge and reciprocal learning regarding ableism and disability in academia. Empirical examples of the resistance to grassroots knowledge’s attempts to make inroads into academe will be used to exemplify the challenges encountered by those seeking change, and I argue that any effort to improve participation in higher education must entail advocacy for structures and contents that encourage 'the unknown' to emerge by proactively seeking out and incorporating such learning and scholarship into mainstream academia. In creating structures and contents for the benefit of many, disabled feminist scholars would eventually be able to focus on research of their own choosing rather than feeling duty-bound to axle the mantle of responsibility for their own and others' exclusion from mainstream academic knowledge.
Gillberg is also engaged in the project "Practices of Everyday Ableism in Academia".