Engaged Scholarship: Making Coalitions, Making Change

Endorsed by the WHA

Thursday, March 30, 2023, 2:45 PM - 4:15 PM

Type: Roundtable Discussion

Tags: Disability Studies; Social and Cultural


The multiple on-going crises of our time require an intellectual activism that is grounded in communities and ethical practice as well as historical knowledge. The skills needed for this urgent work and new situations, such as in neighborhoods, archives, prisons, unceded lands, museums, online/social/digital and public spaces are seldom part of higher education curricula. Together, round table members and the audience will create a master class in coalition work and transforming how knowledge is produced, shared, and preserved.

Session Participants

Chair: John Mckiernan-Gonzalez, Texas State University / Center for the Study of the Southwest
John Mckiernan-Gonzalez came to history through public health and immigrant labor rights activities in Chicago. He has focused on the ways U.S. medical borders shaped opportunities and citizenship in the borderlands connecting Mexico and the United States; his current work with the Center for the Study of the Southwest emphasizes community engagement, migrant medical circuits and community movements in the Southwest and across the United States.

Panelist: Juliann Anesi, University of Los Angeles
Juliann Anesi is an Assistant Professor of Gender Studies at the University of California – Los Angeles. Her research interests include disability and indigeneity, educational policies, and decolonial feminisms. As a community educator and activist, she has also worked with non-profit organizations and schools in American Sāmoa, California, Hawai ́i, New York and Sāmoa. Juliann’s work has appeared in venues including Disability and the Global South, Women and Social Movements in the United States, 1600 to 2000; and Disability & Society. She is currently at work on a book manuscript, Tautua: Women’s Disability Activism in Sāmoa

Panelist: Susan Burch, Middlebury College/Disability History Association
Susan Burch is professor and director of American Studies and a former director of the Center for the Comparative Study of Race and Ethnicity at Middlebury College. Her research and teaching interests focus on histories of deaf, disability, Mad, race, ethnicity, Indigeneity, and gender and sexuality. Material culture, oral history, and inclusive design play an important role in her courses. She is the author of Signs of Resistance: American Deaf Cultural History, 1900 to 1942 (2002) and a coauthor, with Hannah Joyner, of Unspeakable: The Story of Junius Wilson (2007). She has coedited anthologies including Women and Deafness: Double Visions (2006), Deaf and Disability Studies: Interdisciplinary Perspectives (2010), and Disability Histories (2014), and also served as editor-in-chief of The Encyclopedia of American Disability History (2009). Susan has received numerous grants and awards for her work, including an American Council of Learned Societies Fellowship, National Archives regional residency fellowship, National Endowment for the Humanities and Mellon Foundation grants, and a Fulbright Scholars award. Her latest book, which has recently received the National Women's Studies Association Alison Piepmeier Book Prize, Committed: Native Families, Institutionalization, and Remembering (University of North Carolina Press, 2021) centers on peoples’ lived experiences inside and outside the Canton Asylum, a federal psychiatric institution created specifically to detain American Indians.

Panelist: Jen René Deerinwater, Crushing Colonialism
Jen Deerinwater is a bisexual, Two Spirit, multiply-disabled, citizen of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma and an award-winning journalist and organizer who covers the myriad of issues hir communities face with an intersectional lens. Jen is the founding executive director of Crushing Colonialism, a 2019 New Economies Reporting Project and a 2021 Disability Futures fellow.

Jen is a contributor to Truthout and hir work has been featured in a wide range of publications, including Bitch, Rewire.News, and New Now Next. Jen’s writing is included in the anthologies Disability Visibility: First Person Stories from the Twenty First Century, Two-Spirits Belong Here and the forthcoming Crip Authorship, and Building Narrative Power for 21st Century Social Movements. She's the co-editor of the anthology Sacred and Subversive. and is currently hard at work on hir own book soon to be announced.

Panelist: Rachel Dudley, University of Toledo
Rachel Dudley, Ph.D., is an assistant professor of Women’s and Gender Studies and affiliated faculty in Africana Studies at the University of Toledo. Anchored in Black feminist praxis, her research and teaching interests explore gender, race, history, health and culture. Broadly, her work has focused on engaging communities around histories of medical trauma, the Black American experience, bearing witness, social memory and cultural healing modalities. Dudley has published an article in Disability Studies Quarterly called, “Toward An Understanding of the ‘Medical Plantation’ As a Cultural Location of Disability” (2012); a book review in Synapsis: A Health Humanities Journal (2020) and an article titled, “The Roles of Feminist Health Humanities Scholarship & Black Women’s Artistry in Re-Shaping the Origin Narrative of Modern, U.S. Gynecology” in Humanities (2021). Additionally, Dudley is a member of the Black Feminist Health Science Studies Collective and she has served as a Co-PI on a National Endowment for the Humanities grant, to strengthen the teaching and study of the health humanities.

Panelist: Katherine Ott, Smithsonian Institution
Katherine Ott, PhD, is an historian and curator at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History in the Division of Medicine and Science. The nature of public history necessitates collaboration—with communities, individuals, and on teams and coalitions outside of academia. She works on the history and material culture of medicine, including the body, disability and bodily difference, sexuality and LGBTQ+ history, among other things and has curated exhibitions on those topics. Ott has worked at the museum for over twenty years and collected a range of artifacts, from 1930s-era architectural tactile models used at the Michigan School for the Blind (where Stevie Wonder attended) and artificial skin to a necktie advertising Viagra and electroencephlography devices (EEG). Ott is the author or co-editor of three books and numerous articles. She received the Society for Disability Studies Senior Scholar Award in 2016 and has served the OAH on several committees and the Executive Board. Ott also teaches graduate courses in American Studies at The George Washington University and tweets @amhistcurator.