Curriculum Inquiry Special Issue Call for Papers: Disability as Meta Curriculum: Epistemologies, Ontologies, and Transformative Praxis

Curriculum Inquiry

The Editors of Curriculum Inquiry in collaboration with the Guest Editors are seeking manuscripts for a special issue, titled “Disability as Meta Curriculum: Epistemologies, Ontologies, and Transformative Praxis”

Disability studies scholarship exposes how constructions of the human exclude bodies/minds who refuse to be confined by normative ideologies. In its stead, disability studies’ scholars and activists have offered counter-narratives that reject ableist ideologies and instead support alternative/transformative ways of knowing, being, and doing. In this special issue we make an epistemic claim that disability studies’ approaches to curriculum are doing more than merely critiquing how privileged knowledge excludes disability from curriculum theory and praxis. We argue, instead, that disability studies embodies an epistemic space that not only demonstrates its difference from the normative curriculum, it also exceeds curriculum’s confining boundaries. Thus, thinking through Disability as Meta Curriculum we argue for a “curriculum about curriculum” – one that critically investigates the epistemological, ontological, and pedagogical claims of the normative curriculum from the critical standpoint of disability.

By proposing Disability as Meta Curriculum one purpose for this issue of Curriculum Inquiry is to unpack the absence of disability within the discourses of curriculum studies. This is because while aspects of identity, such as race, gender, sexuality and class are often interrogated in relation to curriculum, consideration for disability and ableist structures are rarely considered. At the same time, even the rare moments when disability is centered in educational contexts, as in special education for instance, there is little recognition of the ways in which race, class, gender, and sexuality impact the experience of disability in those contexts. Moreover, long-standing demographic trends continue to uncover an over-representation of racialized and marginalized students as well as students living in poverty enrolled in programs with reduced academic expectations and limited post-secondary access. In fact, social justice oriented scholars argue that these specialized programs are complicit in the broader economic and social replication and stratification of privilege and inequality.

Keeping with the theme of Disability as Meta-Curriculum, we argue that it is necessary to re-imagine disability and curriculum outside the confines of special education. To this end, we foreground programs and interventions that may not formally fall within special education (e.g. vocational training, pedagogy for english language learners, arts-based education, community-based disability organizations, etc.), but that impact the lives of students along the axes of race, class, gender identity, sexuality, and disability. Additionally, thinking of curriculum as cultural politics we call for theorizations of disability via a ciritical ntersectional lens that engages the politics of settler-colonialism, anti-blackness, transnational feminisms, and queer/crip/trans identities enmeshed within the complex relational contexts of the Global North and the Global South.

We invite authors to contribute to this special issue of Curriculum Inquiry by discussing the radical and transformative possibilities of conceptualizing disability as metacurriculum.  We especially invite articles that are written in clear, accessible language that will address any of the following questions:

  • What are the epistemological barriers/possibilities when disability is brought into the intellectual ambit of curriculum theory?
  • How does the discourse of “normativity” haunt curriculum studies? In what ways do these discourses punish those bodies-minds that do not conform to the mold of the human as put forth by Western educational thought? Why is “disability” the discourse curriculum theorists turn to in order to engage non-normative difference? And how might those moments when curriculum studies and disability meet enable us to rethink the radical educational subject against the (hetero)normative, the able, the literate, and the human?
  • What ontological claims are made about curriculum theory that actively exclude disabled people from such theorizations? What would curriculum theory look like if disabled people re-imagined the curriculum? How will curriculum be transformed if it is rooted in the ontologies of disability?
  • Ironically, the term “curriculum” as a theoretical concept is seldom mentioned in special education, but is, in fact. imagined and enacted as programming. What are the implications of such under-theorizations of curriculum in the context of disability? What is the link between curriculum and conceptions of specialized programming for students identified as disabled?
  • We also invite authors to delve more deeply into the entanglements of identity and programming and query the role of curriculum in the unsettling construction of disability. How does one further problematize practices of schooling that enact racism, sexism, and heteronormativity and that are complicit in the construction and removal of the disabled body from mainstream education? What pedagogical interventions can a curriculum rooted in a critical disability studies perspective utilize to challenge these exclusionary and oppressive practices?
  • Additionally community-based disability organizations have produced a counter-curriculum that offers a more radical understanding of social difference. How do formal educational contexts engage with this radical curriculum? What can curriculum studies learn from radical social movements led by the disability community?  

Instructions for Submissions

The Guest Editors welcome and encourage interested scholars from curriculum studies, disability studies or any disciplinary perspective who are substantively engaging these questions to contact them with queries and abstracts before the deadline for submission. Papers are due January 15, 2018. Please email Nirmala Erevelles or Elizabeth J. Grace or Gillian Parekh.

Editorial information