1st Edition

The Pedagogy of Pathologization Dis/abled Girls of Color in the School-prison Nexus

By Subini Ancy Annamma Copyright 2018
    212 Pages 12 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    212 Pages 12 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge



    Linking powerful first-person narratives with structural analysis, The Pedagogy of Pathologization explores the construction of criminal identities in schools via the intersections of race, disability, and gender. amid the prevalence of targeted mass incarceration. Focusing uniquely on the pathologization of female students of color, whose voices are frequently engulfed by labels of deviance and disability, a distinct and underrepresented experience of the school-to-prison pipeline is detailed through original qualitative methods rooted in authentic narratives. The book’s DisCrit framework, grounded in interdisciplinary research, draws on scholarship from critical race theory, disability studies, education, women’s and girl’s studies, legal studies, and more.


    Introduction: Prison Nation & the School-Prison Nexus

    Chapter 1: Public Schools and the Criminalization of Difference-Destruction and Creation

    Chapter 2: Criminal Literacies and the Redemptive Powers of Juvenile Incarceration

    Chapter 3: Release & Resistance-Unprepared Exits & Radical Imaginations

    Chapter 4: Expansive Justice and a Pedagogy of Resistance

    Appendix: Mapping the Margins & Methodological Pluralism


    Subini Ancy Annamma, Ph.D., is Assistant Professor in the Department of Special Education at the University of Kansas, USA. She was recently awarded the 2017 American Education Research Association (AERA) Division G Early Career Award and the Western Social Science Association (WSSA) Outstanding Emerging Scholar Award. She is a past winner of the AERA Dissertation Minority Fellowship in Education Research Award, former Co-Program Chair for the 2016 annual conference of the Critical Race Studies Association in Education, and is the co-editor of two books.

    ‘The Pedagogy of Pathologization uncovers stories behind the statistics which place Black girls labeled with disabilities among students experiencing the highest rates of pushout in schools nationwide. In a compelling account that is at once loving, eloquent, insightful, scholarly, and profoundly affecting, the author brings to life the voices and experiences of the young women she partners with in this study of policing across institutions that combines into a seamless web of criminalization and exclusion for Black disabled girls. She also illuminates girls' resilience and resistance in the face of the absurd and tragic abandonment and punishment they face for surviving multiple challenges - and the ways in which educators and concerned adults can intervene in solidarity and love. An essential contribution to conversations about education, policing and mass incarceration.’

    —Andrea J. Ritchie, Researcher in Residence on Race, Gender, Sexuality and Criminalization, Barnard Center for Research on Women, author of Invisible No More: Police Violence Against Black Women and Women of Color. 

    ‘Pedagogy of Pathologization sheds new light on the school-to-prison pipeline by focusing on the experiences of the most marginalized students –dis/abled girls of color. Based on her work in juvenile incarceration education sites, Subini Ancy Annamma uses an intersectional lens to vividly reveal how racism, ableism, and carceral logics work together to criminalize and punish these children and calls us to reimagine the classroom as a place of liberation. A must read for everyone seeking to understand and dismantle the carceral state.’ 

    —Dorothy Roberts, author of Killing the Black Body: Race, Reproduction, and the Meaning of Liberty.

    ‘The Pedagogy of Pathologization animates theories of intersectionality, critical race theory, and disability studies via the lived experiences of these young girls who are subject to a litany of violent practices abetted by the school-to-prison pipeline. Not only does Annamma document practices of resiliency exhibited by these girls, but also imagines what structural interventions are needed to resist the pathological criminalization of young people in our society. I can see this book becoming a classic because it is one of the first books to engage with this unique confluence of theories, loci, and subjects.’

    —Nirmala Erevelles, Professor Social and Cultural Studies in Education at the University of Alabama, USA

    ‘Annamma passionately brings to life the hyper-marginalized realities of incarcerated girls of color who have been categorized as disabled. Using Discrit analysis, the author vividly centers the young voices ---illustrating their efforts to grapple with and resist their multiple oppressions whether emanating from home, school, or the criminal justice system. Annamma highlights their moving insights about their situations and caring natures that need to be nurtured. For these young people to transcend potentially bleak futures requires personal and financial investment from all of us on the local, state, and national levels.’

    —Adrien Katherine Wing, Associate Dean & Bessie Dutton Murray Professor of Law, University of Iowa College of Law, USA

    ‘The Pedagogy of Pathologization is an amazing original work.  With Dis/ability Critical Race Theory (DisCrit) as her framework, Professor Annamma has provided us with an explanation of how society pathologizes female Students of Color.  She takes us to that place where we understand the multiple forms of marginality these young women experience in the everyday.  In this multiple marginal place, she reminds me of how W.E.B. DuBois introduced me to "double consciousness," "two-ness," and the "veil."  Annamma has written a remarkable, compelling, and insightful book.’

    —Daniel G. Solórzano, Professor of Social Science & Comparative Education, UCLA Graduate School of Education & Information Studies, USA

    ‘This book is sometimes a mirror reflecting back what we've wrought by infusing education with a culture of punishment; and sometimes a maze, layering prisons on top of schools, racism on top of sexism on top of ableism. More than anything, though, Subini Annamma offers us a flashlight, carefully picking out ways to repair and move forward.’

    —Ian F. Haney López, Earl Warren Professor of Public Law, UC Berkeley and Director, Racial Politics Project, Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society

    ‘Annamma is one of the most important voices among a new generation of critical scholars who are challenging conventional wisdom and exposing the vicious inequities that shape the everyday world of contemporary schooling. The study advances our understanding of ‘intersectionality’ as a concept and as a lived reality. Written with flair, sensitivity and passion, this book explores the intimate workings of the school-prison pipeline from the inside; it is essential reading for anyone concerned with justice and education.’

    —David Gillborn, Director of Research, School of Education and Director, Centre for Research in Race & Education (CRRE), University of Birmingham, UK

    'Finally, a book that I can point well-known Black academic scholars like Michelle Alexander, Monique Morris, Mark Anthony Neal, and more, to learn about the school-to-prison pipeline from Black and disabled girls of color who are consistently erased from our books, studies, and conversations on this topic. Just like when bell hooks and other Black women scholars took on Black and non-Black male academic scholars about how the absence of Black women in their work and writings helped to continue to erase Black women’s experiences, writings, political movement, art and yes, academic writings in and outside academia, with this book, The Pedagogy of Pathologization, Annamma steps into this harsh but needed tradition of not only talking back to Black, women, and disability academic scholars but to bring in her Black and disabled community inside of academic walls as she writes what has been left out– race, gender, and disability inside the school-to-prison pipeline.'

    —Leroy F. Moore Jr., Author of Black Disabled Art History 101; Founding Member of the National Black Disabled Coalition 

    ‘The Pedagogy of Pathologization by Subini Ancy Annamma is a revelation. It is a must-read for anyone interested in the lives of girls of color, special education, the school-to-prison pipeline, and critical race and disability studies. Dr. Annamma connects the real stories, journeys, and expertise of girls coded as ‘violent’ or ‘difficult’ by educators with a call for a pedagogy of resistance instead of pathologization and criminalization. The Pedagogy of Pathologization offers readers a glimpse into the lives of multiply-marginalized disabled girls of color and centers them in a way that is all too rare in the education and research world.’

    —Alice Wong, Disability Visibility Project®

    ‘For some time, it has been clear that we not only disproportionately punish the children with the greatest needs, we also are most likely to punish them because of their needs. This now includes a tendency to criminalize children for offenses that were previously not regarded as criminal offenses. In this important new book Subini Ancy Annamma shows us how this process is occurring among girls of color, particular those with disabilities. In this powerful analysis, readers will learn how some of our most vulnerable children are being victimized by punitive discipline practices. Hopefully, this book will serve as a wake up call that we can and must do better in meeting the needs of these children.’

    —Pedro A. Noguera, Distinguished Professor of Education, UCLA Graduate School of Education & Information Studies, USA

    'Critical studies of dis/ability, or DisCrit, is one of the most exciting innovations in education and allied disciplines. Subini Annamma deftly captures forms of subordination and superordination in an analysis that weaves together social relations, like race and gender, within the carceral state. It is an argument that is both profound and profuse about the urgency of intervening in the educational system’s multiple disabling of girls of color. It would be impossible to ignore the problem any longer after reading this book.'

    —Zeus Leonardo, Professor of Education and The Critical Theory Designated Emphasis, University of California, Berkeley, USA and Author of Race Frameworks: A Multidimensional Theory of Racism and Education