CFP (edited collection): Canadian Disability Activism Beyond the Charter: Locating Artistic and Cultural Interventions

What is the current status and future of disability activism in Canada?

In the early 1980s, Canadian disability activists fought for inclusion of physical and mental disability as defendable categories under section 15 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. This momentous success shaped the agenda of disability activism in subsequent years and contributed to many policy and legal victories. Yet, the political and non-profit landscapes have changed dramatically since this time. Disability organizations across the country continue to struggle to secure sustainable funding, define new roles and maintain resources for advocacy work in an increasingly precarious political environment. Further, there are other modes of disability activism, often rooted in cultural or artistic intervention that seek to destabilize dominant meanings of disability. These modes tend to be underreported in academic accounts of Canadian disability movements that privilege legal and policy approaches.

Canadian Disability Activism Beyond the Charter seeks contributions from individuals, representatives of community organizations and academics that demonstrate the ways in which cultural and artistic interventions are reshaping the contours of disability advocacy and activism in Canada. Our intent is to highlight tactics and issues that emerged outside and after the Charter moment, with particular emphasis on the contributions of artists, radical activists and youths. We seek to complicate the notion of a singular disability movement in Canada as the proposed edited collection will feature accounts of diverse and potentially conflicting modes of activism.

We are seeking submissions that feature:

  • A variety of issues, including activism that may not always be interpreted as a traditional “disability issue”
  • Representation from varied and multiple identities, e.g, sexualities, genders, ethnicities, socioeconomic backgrounds
  • Perspectives from different provincial environments
  • Representation from varied impairment groups- D/deaf, autistic, people with physical disabilities, mad/survivor activists, and allied perspectives
  • Contributions to broad based movements such as the Quebec student movement and the Occupy movements, among others
  • Accounts of artistic, cultural and radical tactics.

We plan to apply for funding to host a workshop in Ottawa in Spring 2014. At this workshop, invited contributors will be sponsored to attend in person in order to present draft chapters of their work. This will help us prepare for a submission of the manuscript for review by the University of British Columbia Press in Fall 2014.

Guidelines for submission:

Please submit a 300-word abstract of your proposed contribution and a 100-word biography by May 15, 2013 to co-editors Christine Kelly ( or Michael Orsini (


Christine (Chrissy) Kelly is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Ottawa where her research examines Personal Support Worker education in Ontario from a disability perspective. Christine has published in a variety of journals on disability, gender, attendant services, youth and Canadian disability movements. She conducted research on Canadian disability movements and was centrally involved in planning the 2011 Youth Activist Form, “Doing Disability Differently” at Carleton University.

Michael Orsini is Associate Professor in the School of Political Studies and currently Director of the Institute of Women’s Studies at the University of Ottawa. A specialist in health policy and politics and the study of social movements, he recently co-edited (with Joyce Davidson), Worlds of Autism: Across the Spectrum of Neurological Difference, forthcoming Fall 2013 from the University of Minnesota Press.

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