The award provides funding to host Rosemarie Garland-Thomson and Karen Nakamura as part of UCLA Disability Studies' conference on Disability as Spectacle. This interdisciplinary conference aims to stimulate a discussion around how society constructs, reacts, and embraces or rejects visible and invisible disabilities in the public sphere. As visibility continues to increase in popular culture, scholars will need to confront a changing landscape in which (some) disabilities are de-stigmatized while others are prevented from participating in the new visibility.
Rosemarie Garland-Thomson is a national spokesperson for disability whose essay, "Becoming Disabled" was recently featured as the lead piece in a new series by the New York Times of weekly essays by and about people living with disabilities. She is a professor of English and Bioethics at Emory University, where her fields of study are disability studies, American literature and culture, and feminist theory. Her work develops the field of critical disability studies in the health humanities, broadly understood, to bring forward disability access, inclusion and identity to communities inside and outside of the academy. She is the author of Staring: How We Look and several other books. Her current book project is Habitable Worlds: Disability, Technology, and Eugenics.
Karen Nakamura was recruited to UC Berkeley as the Haas Endowed Chair of Disability Studies, the first in this field. She is a cultural and visual anthropologist who researches disability in contemporary Japan at the University of California, Berkeley. Her first project was on sign language, identity, and deaf social movements and resulted in a monograph and edited volume. After that, her second project was on schizophrenia and community-based recovery in Japan and resulted in a book, its translation, and two films. She is currently finish a third project which explores the intersections of disability, gender, and sexuality and will result in a book titled Trans/Japan. After that, she will be working on a project on prosthetic, replacement, and augmentation technologies in contemporary Japan and the USA.