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Practicing Disability Studies in Education

Acting Toward Social Change


Edited By David J. Connor, Jan W. Valle and Chris Hale

Practicing Disability Studies in Education: Acting Toward Social Change celebrates the diversity of contemporary work being developed by a range of scholars working within the field of Disability Studies in Education (DSE). The central idea of this volume is to share ways in which educators practice DSE in creative and eclectic ways in order to rethink, reframe, and reshape the current educational response to disability. Largely confined to the limitations of traditional educational discourse, this collective (and growing) group continues to push limits, break molds, assert the need for plurality, explore possibilities, move into the unknown, take chances, strategize to destabilize, and co-create new visions for what can be, instead of settling for what is. Much like jazz musicians who rely upon one another on stage to create music collectively, these featured scholars have been – and continue to – riff with one another in creating the growing body of DSE literature. In sum, this volume is DSE «at work.»
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9. Madness and (Higher Education) Administration: Ethical Implications of Pedagogy Using Disability Studies Scholarship



In the past year, a spate of shootings in university settings attributed to presumed “mad”1 men/women has resulted in an increased surveillance of those individuals who are either suspected of or have a diagnosis of mental illness. Since several of these shootings were done by individuals associated with the university, there has been a corresponding heightened policing of faculty/students/staff presumed to manifest symptoms of mental illness. In this context, university administrators have embraced proactive measures such as designing complex evacuation and public safety procedures in case of an actual shooting on campus. But these proactive measures do not just end there. Instead, university administrators have encouraged their constituents to be increasingly vigilant in identifying faculty/students/staff they suspect have a mental disability; in referring them to “appropriate” professionals; in expelling them from campus; and in ensuring, if necessary, the administration of involuntary medication and/or involuntary commitment to a mental institution of those individuals deemed to be potentially dangerous to the campus (Price, 2011; Stuart, 2012). Therefore in a context where mental illness has become synonymous with danger, the very presence of students/faculty/staff with psychiatric disabilities places them in extreme jeopardy on college/university campuses.

In a context where such drastic actions against “mad” colleagues are conceived of as common sense, an intervention from a critical disability studies standpoint is both necessary and urgent. Critical disability studies explores the discursive, cultural, material, and relational politics of the body/mind ← 159 | 160 → that constitute contested notions...

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