AFIELD Study is a series of co-learning programs led by members of the network on different topics.
Based on closed sessions and public workshops, it seeks to nurture synergies between like-minded practitioners, allowing for mutual exchange of skills and knowledge.
The second Afield Study Program titled “The Construction of Ableism” led by Chantal Wong took place online over four sessions from 30th May to 9th June 2022.
Provoked by Dolores Hayden’s prompt “What would a non-sexist city look like?”, this inquiry explores a rhetoric beyond one of lack and insufficiency to trace a network of technologies and practices that create disability and reimagine new sites and communities.
What would a place be like, where each person showed up as able and a contributor to the space, where everyone was part of the creative process and upholding of the space, for each other?
What would a non-ableist site look like?
Ableism is defined as a network of beliefs, processes and practices that produces a particular kind of self and body (the corporeal standard) that is projected as the perfect, species-typical and therefore essential and fully human. Disability then is cast as a diminished state of being human
While Ableism is primarily connected to disability justice, it is also what sets the stage for ostracization, control and oppression based on trans and queer identities, race and skin colour, age and body shape. (Mia Mingus) These, through the conditions of our environment make bodies ‘lesser than an idealized standard’ and justifies placing them in a subordinate and precarious position. The argument here is that disability is not inherent, but ableism creates disability and insufficiency.
This Study Program and discussion looks at the mechanisms and structures that open and close off access, and conditions that perpetuate mechanisms of ableism. It can be as straightforward as the assumed universality of a staircase, to a complex system of cosmological beliefs that empower certain bodies to control the place, role and activities of others, setting a physical, social and spiritual hierarchy of bodies.
Disability justice and ableism work has primarily come out of North America and Europe, with a particular concentration from the USA. This program, therefore, sought to expand from this limited view to highlight initiatives from India, Cuba, Brazil, Mexico, and Hong Kong, in order to allow for common understandings and points of relations to emerge, and to bring greater awareness to the inherent ableist habits in our own practices.
Afield Study 2022, ‘The Construction of Ableism’ is dressed in a series of untitled paintings by Cuban artist Esperanza Conde Rodriguez. Images courtesy of the artist and Riera Studio.
Download Full Program:
The Construction of Ableism
by Chantal Wong
Monday 30 May – 11-12:30pm ET
HISTORY, INSTITUTIONS, LANGUAGE
Amanda de Sá Paschoal – Brasília
Leroy F Moore Junior – Los Angeles
Sophie Cheung – Hong Kong/London
Thursday 02 June – 11-12:15pm ET
Smita Chakraburtty – Rajasthan
Lluvia Nisaye – Oaxaca/Toronto
Monday 06 June – 11-12:15pm ET
Samuel Riera – Havana
Renata Carvalho – São Paulo
Thursday 09 June – 11-1pm ET
WORKSHOP ON ACCESS & ABLEISM