© 2016

Occupying Disability: Critical Approaches to Community, Justice, and Decolonizing Disability

  • Pamela Block
  • Devva Kasnitz
  • Akemi Nishida
  • Nick Pollard

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xiii
  2. Decolonizing Disability

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 1-1
    2. Pamela Block, Devva Kasnitz, Akemi Nishida, Nick Pollard
      Pages 3-14
    3. Sunaura Taylor, Marg Hall, Jessica Lehman, Rachel Liebert, Akemi Nishida, Jean Stewart
      Pages 15-29
    4. Marta Peres, Francine Albiero de Camargo, José Otávio Pompeu e Silva, Pamela Block
      Pages 115-125
  3. Disability and Community

About this book


This book explores the concept of "occupation" in disability well beyond traditional clinical formulations of disability: it considers disability not in terms of pathology or impairment, but as a range of unique social identities and experiences that are shaped by visible or invisible diagnoses/impairments, socio-cultural perceptions and environmental barriers and offers innovative ideas on how to apply theoretical training to real world contexts. Inspired by disability justice and “Disability Occupy Wall Street / Decolonize Disability” movements in the US and related movements abroad, this book builds on politically engaged critical approaches to disability that intersect occupational therapy, disability studies and anthropology. "Occupying Disability" will provide a discursive space where the concepts of disability, culture and occupation meet critical theory, activism and the creative arts. The concept of “occupation” is intentionally a moving target in this book. Some chapters discuss occupying spaces as a form of protest or, alternatively, protesting against territorial occupations. Others present occupations as framed or problematized within the fields of occupational therapy and occupational science and anthropology as engagement in meaningful activities. The contributing authors come from a variety of professional, academic and activist backgrounds to include perspectives from theory, practice and experiences of disability. Emergent themes include: all the permutations of the concept of "occupy," disability justice/decolonization, marginalization and minoritization, technology, struggle, creativity, and change. This book will engage clinicians, social scientists, activists and artists in dialogues about disability as a theoretical construct and lived experience. ​


decolonizing disability medical and cultural anthropological approaches to disability occupational science and disability occupational therapy approaches to disability occupational therapy without borders occupying disability

Editors and affiliations

  • Pamela Block
    • 1
  • Devva Kasnitz
    • 2
  • Akemi Nishida
    • 3
  • Nick Pollard
    • 4
  1. 1.Disability Studies, Health and Rehabilitation Sciences School of Health Technology and ManagementStony Brook UniversityStony BrookUSA
  2. 2.Disability Studies School of Professional StudiesThe City University of New YorkNew YorkUSA
  3. 3.Disability and Human Development Gender and Women’s StudiesUniversity of Illinois at ChicagoChicagoUSA
  4. 4.Occupational Therapy Faculty of Health and WellbeingSheffield Hallam UniversitySheffieldUnited Kingdom

About the editors

Dr. Pamela Block is Associate Dean for Research in the School of Health Technology and Management, Associate Professor in the Occupational Therapy Program, Director of the Concentration in Disability Studies for the Ph.D. Program in Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, a former President of the Society for Disability Studies (2009-2010), and a Fellow of the Society for Applied Anthropology. She is also affiliated with the Stony Brook University Department of Cultural Analysis and theory, the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies and the Center for Medical Humanities, Compassionate Care and Bioethics.

Trained as a cultural geographer at Clark University and then as an anthropologist at The University of Michigan, Devva Kasnitz did postdoctoral work at Northwestern and at the University of California, San Francisco in urban and medical anthropology. She has worked in the area of disability studies for the last 30 years while still maintaining an interest in ethnicity and immigration. She was on the founding board of the Society for Disability Studies, the Anthropology and Disability Research Interest Group, and has mentored a generation of disability studies scholars in the US, Australia, and Guatemala. She currently works with the Association of Higher Education and Disability.

Akemi Nishida is a doctoral student in the social personality psychology PhD program and an adjunct lecturer in Psychology and Disability Studies at City University of New York. Using frameworks of social justice studies and critical disability studies, her work focuses on the politicization of disabled people and community building in relation to intersecting oppression and privilege. She is also a performer in a project ‘GIMP’ by Heidi Latsky Dance and a starting member of DISLABELEDtv, a media organization by disabled youth/young adults. Through her activism-oriented scholarship and art, she works toward disability justice and larger social justice.

Nick Pollard is a senior lecturer in occupational therapy, and research coordinator for occupational therapy in the Centre for Health and Social Care Research. He was appointed to this post in September 2003. Graduating as an occupational therapist in 1991 from Derby School of Occupational Therapy Nick subsequently gained his MA in Psychiatry, Philosophy and Society in 1996 from the University of Sheffield and an MSc in Occupational Therapy in 2001 from Sheffield Hallam University. He obtained his PhD by publication in 2013. Nick has worked in the NHS as a senior and a head occupational therapist in psychiatry. He is currently a member of the ENOTHE special group on citizenship.

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