Week in Review: July 3-9

There were some interesting news pieces this week. I’m particularly on the lookout for stories on that topic, since I will be giving a talk on race, disability, and health next month. If you see anything, please send it my way. Also, for those of you in the northeast, don’t forget about the First Annual Disability Pride Parade in New York on Sunday!

Without further ado, here is my curated list of disability news highlights from the past week:

Motherhood

A Kindergarten Form Asks: Vaginal Birth or C-Section. Why?” (Cara Paiuk): I absolutely loved this piece – a rant, in many ways – in which Paiuk recalls her dismay at a kindergarten registration form that asked whether her child was delivered vaginally or via c-section. This, to me, is the perfect convergence of pop disability diagnostics and mother-blaming: the absurd notion that school nurses or other officials might link a child’s deliver, five years earlier, to certain traits or tendencies in the first year of grade school. Unbelievable. And scary that no other parents at the school raised any questions about this false connection.

Vaccines

California, Camelot and Vaccines” (Frank Bruni): Bruni shares a curious history of communications with Robert Kennedy Jr, environmentalist and dangerously powerful voice against vaccination. My favorite quote from the piece: “Although the Internet could be making all of us smarter, it makes many of us stupider, because it’s not just a magnet for the curious. It’s a sinkhole for the gullible.”

The Challenge of Public Dissemination” (EJ Sobo). A medical anthropologist thinks through her recent experience of having her research on vaccination beliefs and practices picked up – and then misinterpreted – by the popular press. A great look at anthropology for multiple audiences and the shifting nature of dissemination in a digital age.

Race and Disability

Without Addressing Disability We’ll Never Make Meaningful Progress in Ending Police Violence” (Milwaukee Community Journal). An important piece about disability and intersectionality, a topic I’m seeing more and more.

The Racial Imbalances of Special Education” (Weston Phippen): Experts speak out against recent study arguing that Black and Latino students are not overrepresented in special ed, contrary to widespread belief. Curiously, the social and cultural dimensions of (over)diagnosis don’t make it into the piece until almost the end.

NYPD Officers Accused of Beating Teen with Autism Assumed He Was ‘Up to No Good’: Lawyer” (Andres Jauregui). A Black teen with autism was allegedly beaten by police for no reason in front of his home last fall. New York’s finest are at it again.

Misc.

Of all U.S. Police Shootings, One-Quarter Reportedly Involve the Mentally Ill” (NPR). The headline says it all

Disability, Anthropology, and a Sister’s Ambivalence” (Liz Lewis). My recent blog piece on my ambivalent relationship with disability, both as a concept and also a central aspect of my family’s autobiography. I hesitated to write this and to put it out there, but it has touched a nerve with many readers.

Celebrating 25 Years of the ADA” (Alan E. Guttmacher). 25 years and going, but we still have much to do!

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Update: StoryCorps/Disability Visibility Project!

Would you believe that the slots for StoryCorps interviews were filled in three minutes during last month’s registration?  Wow!

Here’s so good news: due to unambiguous demand, StoryCorps has opened up additional interview times.  People can sign up here Wednesday, January 7th at 10:00 a.m. Be warned, however, that these will likely go just as quickly as last time.

If you live in the Austin area and have a disability story to tell, please consider signing up!

Disability Visibility Project & Storycorps in Austin!

Storycorps is coming to Austin in January, but this year there’s a twist. Storycorps is a nonprofit organization best known for its relationship with NPR, which often features segments of interviews.  This year, Storycorps formed a community partnership with the Disability Visibility Project, a fantastic initiative that encourages people with disabilities and others in the community to share their stories via Storycorps in order to create a more robust and accessible archive of disability history.

It’s easy to participate and is an incredibly way to get your story out there.  All interviews are housed at the Library of Congress, literally creating a time capsule for future generations.  Certain interviews are also featured on NPR and its website, or on the Storycorps website.

In order to participate, you just need to register for a time slot.  Registration opens up at 10:00 a.m. on Monday, December 22.  You can sign up here or call this number: 1-800-850-4406.

I have tried to promote this opportunity via social media and I really hope that people in the Austin area will come out to share their stories about personal or family experiences with disability.  I’ll definitely be signing up. Please consider doing the same!

Week in Review: September 7-14

Vaccinations
PBS series Nova aired an excellent one-hour piece, “Vaccines – Calling the Shots,” which can be streamed online.  It offers a general look at the history of recent vaccine debates in the U.S., with a special eye toward the troublesome resurgence of preventable disease outbreaks.  You can read reviews of “Calling the Shots” here and here.  This 2009 Wired article and this interview with anthropologist Sharon Kaufman offer some additional background on contemporary conspiracy theories and folk beliefs regarding vaccines today.

Politics
Texas state senator and gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis shares her own history with abortion in her new memoir, Forgetting to be Afraid.  While it seems absurd to discuss her termination of an ectopic pregnancy in terms of abortion, Davis also reveals that she aborted a pregnancy after multiple physicians agreed that the baby would be born with disabilities if it even survived the pregnancy.  There is a lot to unpack in this story, particular in terms of the mainstream media’s lack of interest in probing the tensions between disability rights and women’s reproductive rights.  You can read more here and here.

Public Health
The Ebola outbreak in West Africa continues to spread unabated amidst growing international concern.  The BBC has a useful collection of relevant news updates and the New York Times featured an op-ed on Sunday criticizing the international community for it’s “feeble” response to the epidemic.  Current tallies indicate around 4,200 total infections with a continued mortality rate of approximately 50 percent, although it is likely that the numbers are somewhat greater.  For an anthropological take on media coverage of this outbreak, please read my recent piece “From Ebola to Pertussis: A Look at Medical Conspiracy Theories.”

More News
South African sprinter and double amputee Oscar Pistorius was found guilty of culpable homicide for shooting and killing his girlfriend in 2013.  Despite the verdict, Pistorius will still be able to represent his country in international competitions.

Events
Readers might want to have the following upcoming conferences on their radars:

American University Centers of Disability – “The Power of Engagement,” 2014 Conference, Washington, DC, November 9-12

American Anthropological Association – “Producing Anthropology,” 2014 Annual Meeting, Washington, DC, December 3-7

Society for Disability Studies – 2015 Annual Conference, Atlanta, June 10-13 (CFP will be posted October 1st!)

The Reference Section: March 2014

I regularly stumble upon disability-related webinars, conferences, events, exhibitions, and other projects that I did not know existed.  It’s both exciting and frustrating, and I have yet to devise a systematic way to keep track of them.  Bookmarking webpages?  Yeah, I never check those.  Adding them to my calendar?  I still manage to overlook them.  An actual paper list?  Ha!

Each month, I will be posting an installment in a new series, The Reference Section.  These will be a hodgepodge of any new and interesting web resources, films, and conferences and events that relate to disability themes and, in particular, to my research.  This series will force me to track these sources as I find them and, in the process, will hopefully offer a useful roundup of resources for my readers.  Please contact me if you have anything to add to the list!

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