A two-day virtual symposium on disability and intersectionality

The Criposium is a collaboration between King’s College London Disability+Intersectionality reading group and SOAS Crip Feminist reading group. It is a two-day public event that took place on two Saturdays 6th June and 13th June, 2020.

Many thanks to everyone who participated in and attended the event, with special thanks to our speakers, presenters, British Sign Language interpreters, moderators, and volunteers. Also thanks to Department of English, King’s College London, SOAS Centre for Gender Studies, and Decolonising SOAS Working Group for their support.

If you enjoyed the event and are financially able, please consider donating to our crowdfund to support and pay our speakers and interpreters. See why we are launching a crowdfund here.

Recordings of the event as well as additional digital podcasts will be available soon. Please follow us on Twitter @criposium for updates.

UPDATE 3rd July: Our second podcast presentation explores the invisibility of queer crip lives in the Bengoli media and during the Covid-19 lockdown. The audio podcast is narrated by Ishan Chakraborty from Jadavpur University. Please click here to enjoy the podcast recording.

UPDATE 1st July: The Virtual Gallery is now closed. We hope you enjoyed the creative exhibition and the pages are now archived. If you wish to see the works in full please contact the artists directly. Please continue to support the work of these amazing intersectional crip artists and follow them on social media.

Our first video podcast explores a contemporary re-framing of Shakespeare’s play, Richard III along the themes of ableism, gender and kinship. The video is presented by Mel Harrison, co-organiser of Criposium. Click here to access the video podcast. We hope you enjoy it!

UPDATE 24th June: Our first digital podcast is a discussion on the intersections of gender and crip. Want to participate? You can watch pre-recorded videos of the panellists here and send in your questions via the Google form on the page. We look forward to hearing from you!

Until the late twentieth century, disability was largely represented as a biological problem in the individual with impairment. Knowledge about disability were primarily used to advance attempts to ‘fix’ problematic bodies through diagnostic labels and therapeutic interventions. Yet the social model of disability argues that disability is not a medical problem located in the individual’s physical impairment but caused by social barriers and attitudes that prevent the person with impairment from fully participating in society. Disability is not a static category but by its very nature unstable and fluid. A person with a physical impairment can also have a chronic illness and mental health condition; a person of any race, gender or class can become disabled at any given time in their life, whether due to illness, accidents or old age. Lived experiences of disability are multiple and it is this multiplicity that makes it a rich site for contestations and intersectional explorations.

Popularised by Carrie Sandhal and Robert McRuer, crip theory recognises the similarities between compulsion to normalise disabled bodies non-traditional sexualities and non-white bodies and acknowledges the multiple identities that intersect with and impact on experiences of disability. Just as ‘queer’ has been reclaimed by LGBTQ+ activists, the term ’crip’ (shortened from ‘cripple’) is a historically derogatory term used by people with physical, mental, sensory impairments and other conditions to signify and express their pride in their disabled identities. The term crip is more ‘contestatory’ and provocative than ‘disability’ in both its unapologetic engagement with identity politics and critique of the exclusions of gender and race within the field of disability itself. To crip is to examine issues from a critical disability perspective and interrogate the ways in which ableism underlies and interlinks with other forms of oppression like racism, sexism, queer/transphobia.

The Criposium draws on this disruptive quality of ‘crip’ to provoke conversations centring the lived experiences of disabled people, particularly those who are also non-binary, trans, of colour.

The event has three key aims:

1. To challenge hegemonic discourses of normalcy that define disabled bodies and bodies of difference as ‘abnormal’ or ‘transgressive’;

2. To explore how ableism intersects with other forms of oppressions such as racism, sexism, trans/homophobia and class inequality;

3. To bring disabled academics and activists in conversation about how to build solidarity across multiple marginalised groups.

Standing by the belief ‘nothing about us without us’ and that all discussions about disability must involve those who live with disability, the Criposium centres disabled people as experts by experience and aims to break down the traditional divide between researcher and research subjects by fostering conversations between academics and disabled people on a level platform. The event will bring together scholars across the fields of disability studies, gender and queer studies, social sciences, and the humanities, as well as disabled artists and activists from the local community, to critique the construction of social identity and the politics of the body.

To accompany the discussions we will be holding a virtual exhibition of creative responses to the theme of crip intersectionality which will then be archived on the website gallery. Please see other pages for details on submission process, deadlines, event and access. You are welcome to submit to both calls and present a paper as well as exhibit a creative work.

”People – cripped or not – wince at the word ‘crippled’ as they do not at ‘handicapped’ or ‘disabled’. Perhaps I want them to wince.” (Nancy Mairs)

Please bear in mind that the event is not a platform to debate the legitimacy of sexual or gender identities and transphobic, homophobic, racist, sexist, or ableist comments will not be permitted at the events or accepted for submission.

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