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Photo of a Stanford GSE event near Cubberley Building

GSE Colloquium Series: Subini Annamma

Friday, February 15, 2019

Excavating Possibilities: Disability Critical Race Theory (DisCrit) in Special Education

Picture of the speaker

Subini Annamma, Assistant Professor at the University of Kansas in the Department of Special Education

Perceptions of race and ability have been constructed and distributed in tandem, historically and into the present. This mutually constitutive relationship of racism and ableism have a significant impact on society’s willingness to educate disabled children of color. While special education has begun engaging with pedagogical practices for equity, there are several learning spaces that continue to be under explored including in-school suspension areas, alternative schools, and sites of juvenile incarceration. These formal, yet forgotten, education spaces are sites where we “banish bodies and minds that tell the truth” (Mingus, 2018)–multiply-marginalized disabled children. Bringing Disability Critical Race Theory (Annamma, Connor, & Ferri, 2013) and spatial analysis (Soja, 2010) to the commitment to re-mediate pedagogy in these spaces, I draw from two studies in public schools and youth prisons to explore the processes that animate statistics in special education, disciplinary actions, and youth incarceration. Understanding these discounted social contexts provides an opportunity to situate the multiply-marginalized disabled youth within as knowledge generators, capable of naming the ways inequities intersect in their lives and creating more responsive education. Findings from these two studies, I 1) identify specific processes that enable and debilitate multiply-marginalized disabled students of color; 2) locate classroom interactions within pedagogy, curriculum and behavior management as sources of these debilitating practices; and 3) recognize Strategies of Resistance, the ways multiply-marginalized students of color address inequities in their lives with savvy and ingenuity. I conclude by looking forward through “enabling practices” within pedagogic spaces and the possibilities provided to special education to explore emancipatory teaching practices for multiply-marginalized disabled youth.

Prior to her doctoral studies, Subini Ancy Annamma was a special education teacher in both public schools and youth prisons. Currently she is an advanced Assistant Professor at the University of Kansas in the Department of Special Education. Her research critically examines the mutually constitutive nature of racism and ableism, how they interlock with other marginalizing oppressions, and how these intersections impact youth education trajectories in urban schools and youth prisons. Further, she positions students as knowledge generators, exploring how their narratives can inform teacher and special education. Dr. Annamma’s book, The Pedagogy of Pathologization (Routledge, 2018) focuses on the education trajectories of incarcerated disabled girls of color. She is also a Ford Postdoctoral Fellow for the 2018-19 school year hosted at UCLA.

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