1st Edition

The Routledge Handbook of Disability Activism

ISBN 9780815349303
Published November 6, 2019 by Routledge
512 Pages 30 B/W Illustrations


USD $250.00

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Book Description

The onslaught of neoliberalism, austerity measures and cuts, impact of climate change, protracted conflicts and ongoing refugee crisis, rise of far right and populist movements have all negatively impacted on disability. Yet, disabled people and their allies are fighting back and we urgently need to understand how, where and what they are doing, what they feel their challenges are and what their future needs will be.

This comprehensive handbook emphasizes the importance of everyday disability activism and how activists across the world bring together a wide range of activism tactics and strategies. It also challenges the activist movements, transnational and emancipatory politics, as well as providing future directions for disability activism.

With contributions from senior and emerging disability activists, academics, students and practitioners from around the globe, this handbook covers the following broad themes:

• Contextualising disability activism in global activism

• Neoliberalism and austerity in the global North

• Rights, embodied resistance and disability activism

• Belonging, identity and values: how to create diverse coalitions for rights

• Reclaiming social positions, places and spaces

• Social media, support and activism

• Campus activism in higher education

• Inclusive pedagogies, evidence and activist practices

• Enabling human rights and policy

• Challenges facing disability activism

The Routledge Handbook of Disability Activism provides disability activists, students, academics, practitioners, development partners and policy makers with an authoritative framework for disability activism.

Table of Contents

List of contributors



Introduction – contextualising disability activism

Introducing disability activism

Maria Berghs, Tsitsi Chataika, Kudakwashe Dube & Yahya El-Lahib

A virtual roundtable: re/defining disability activism with emerging global South disability activists

Tsitsi Chataika (ed.), Samantha Sibanda, Abraham Mateta & Krishna Bahadur Sunar


Neoliberalism and austerity in the global North

1 The impact of neoliberal politics on the welfare and survival of chronically ill and disabled people

Mo Stewart

2 ‘These days are ours’: young disabled people’s experiences of activism and participation in social movements

Miro Griffiths

3 The links between models and theories to social changes as seen and understood by activists and academics: what works?

Joanne Sansome

4 Figures: an artist-activist response to austerity

Liz Crow

5 As technology giveth, technology taketh away

John Rae


Rights, embodied resistance and disability activism

6 Exercising intimate citizenship rights and (re)constructing sexualities: the new place of sexuality in disability activism

Alan Santinele Martino & Margaret Campbell

7 ‘I show the life, I hereby express my life’: activism and art in the political debate between social movements and institutions on D/deaf bodies in Italy

Fabrizio Loce-Mandes

8 Resisting the work cure: mental health, welfare reform and the movement against psychocompulsion

Denise McKenna, Paula Peters & Rich Moth

9 My disability, my ammunition, my asset in advocacy work

Tafadzwa Rugoho


Belonging, identity and values: diverse coalitions for rights

10 Disabled mothers of disabled children: an activism of our children and ourselves

Liz Crow & Wendy Merchant

11 Dementia as a disability

Kate Swaffer, Brian LeBlanc & Peter Mittler

12 Voices from survivors of forced sterilisations in Japan: Eugenics Protection Law 1948–1996

Nagase Osamu

13 Indigenous Species

Khairani Barokka


Reclaiming social positions, places and spaces

14 Disability sport and social activism

Damian Haslett & Brett Smith

15 Naples in the hands: activism for aesthetic enjoyment

Ciro Pizzo, Carmela Pacelli & Maria Grazia Gargiulo

16 Pissed off!: disability activists fighting for toilet access in the UK

Charlotte Jones, Jen Slater, Sam Cleasby, Gill Kemp, Eleanor Lisney & Sarah Rennie

17 Mobility-as-occupation: non-confrontational activism in Trinidad and Tobago

Sylette Henry-Buckmire


Social media, support and activism

18 The tragedy of the hidden lamps: in search of disability rights activists from the global South in the digital era

Nqobani Dube

19 ‘With the knife and the cheese in hand!’: a virtual ethnography of the cyber-activist disabled movement in Brazil and its transnational impact

Marco Antonio Gavério, Anahi Guedes de Mello & Pamela Block

20 Australia’s treatment of Indigenous prisoners: the continuing nature of human rights violations in West Australian jail cells

Hannah McGlade

21 ‘Lchad Poland’ and the fight against inequality: the role of internet advocacy in cases of a rare genetic condition

Anna Chowaniec-Rylke


Campus activism in higher education

22 Beyond random acts of diversity: ableism, academia & institutional sites of resistance

Stephanie J. Cork, Beth Douthirt-Cohen, Kelly M. Hoffman, Paul T. Jaeger & Amanda Strausser

23 At the margins of academia – on the outside, looking in: refusing, challenging and dismantling the material and ideological bases of academia

Armineh Soorenian

24 Sensitisation: broadening the agenda to ‘include’ persons with disabilities

Pragya Deora

25 Rainclamation: how installation art can reclaim space, transform collective suffering into poetic resistance and bring aesthetics to disabled viewers

Erin Davenport


Inclusive pedagogies, evidence and activist practices

26 Zimbabwean disability activism from a higher education perch: an uncertain present but exciting future

Martin Musengi

27 Research as activism?: perspectives of people labelled/with intellectual and developmental disabilities engaged in inclusive research and knowledge co-production

Ann Fudge Schormans, Heather Allan, Donavon O’Neil Allen, Christine Austin, Kareem Elbard, Kevin John Head, Tyler Henderson, Karrissa Horan-LaRoche, Rainbow Hunt, Nathan Gray, Rex Marchi, Donna McCormick, Romeo Dontae Tresean Biggz Pierre & Sean Rowley

28 Reinventing activism: evidence-based participatory monitoring as a tool for social change

Marcia Rioux, Paula Campos Pinto, Dagnachew Wakene, Rados Keravica & Jose Viera


Enabling human rights and policy: transition: international politics

29 Implementation of CRPD in the post-Soviet region: between imitation and authenticity

Egle Sumskiene, Violeta Gevorgianiene & Rasa Geniene

30 Swedish disability activism: from welfare to human rights?

Marie Sépulchre & Lars Lindberg

31 Gendered disability advocacy: lessons from the Girl Power Programme in Sierra Leone

Emma Frobisher, Willem Elbers & Auma Okwany

32 ‘We need not remake the past’: rebuilding the disability movement in Toronto, Canada

Melissa Graham


Conclusion – the coming challenges and future directions

33 Causes and effects of claims for rights: why mainstreaming in Africa matters

Kudakwashe Dube

34 Unsettling realities and rethinking displacement: transforming settlement services for refugees, migrants and people with intellectual disabilities

Natalie Spagnuolo & Yahya El-Lahib

35 Disability futures: activism futures and challenges

Maria Berghs, Tsitsi Chataika, Yahya El-Lahib & Kudakwashe Dube


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Maria Berghs is an anthropologist with a PhD in sociology and social policy. She works in the field of medical anthropology and sociology, specialising in disability studies. Her research interests include disability, global health (sickle cell), humanitarianism, ethics, gender and West Africa (Sierra Leone).

Tsitsi Chataika is the Chairperson and a Senior Lecturer in disability and inclusive education in the Department of Educational Foundations, University of Zimbabwe. Her recent publication is The Routledge Handbook of Disability in Southern Africa.

Yahya El-Lahib is a long-time disability activist and Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Social Work, University of Calgary. His research focuses on the intersection of disability and displacement as interlocking systems of oppression that continue to shape the marginalization experiences of people with disabilities within and outside state borders.

Kudakwashe Dube is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Africa Disability Alliance and has over 30 years of experience designing, managing, evaluating and monitoring development and disability programmes with international and grassroots movements. He is also chair of trustees of ADD International that fights for independence, equality and opportunities for disabled people living in poverty, alongside organisations of disabled people.


"...there really is something in this collection for most and I would recommend it to novice and experienced scholars and activists alike. Any volume which prioritises disability rights is always going to be of value, particularly in such an insecure disablist world. However, in a post Covid-19 world the need to keep disability rights at the forefront of public consciousness in the context of human rights is even greater." -Lisa Davies, Asylum Magazine