Claiming Disability In Appalachia

ASU Author/Contributor (non-ASU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Rebecca Eli Long (Creator)
Appalachian State University (ASU )
Web Site:
Julie Shepherd-Powell

Abstract: Appalachia has been seen as a disabled region, commonly positioned as needing development to be brought in line with the rest of the United States. Instead of automatically assuming that this disablement is negative, I interrogate the multiple meanings and potentialities of disability. I draw on the work of disability scholars and activists to discuss how disability provides a transformative site for social justice. Taking a critical disability studies methodology, I track the ways in which Appalachia has been disabled, primarily through histories of environmental extraction and domination by outside forces. Perceptions of Appalachia as a disabled region, along with lived experiences of disability and impairment, are salient to Appalachia’s past, present, and future. I consider how disability relates to and can inform social movements in Appalachia, including labor, environmental justice, LGBTQ+ organizing, and caregiving. Throughout diverse case studies that challenge the boundaries of what we consider disability, I argue that understanding disability is crucial to the question: What would a good future for Appalachia look like? Instead of assuming that this hypothetical future would include an eradication of disability, I contend that disability offers a source of cultural knowledge and expertise, especially for cross-movement building in times of precarity.

Additional Information

Long, R. (2020). Claiming Disability In Appalachia. Unpublished Master’s Thesis. Appalachian State University, Boone, NC.
Language: English
Date: 2020
Appalachia, Disability, Social Justice, Environmental, Queer

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