Disability and the Decolonial Turn: Perspectives From the Americas

Call for Papers

Disability and the Global South
An International Journal

Disability and the Decolonial Turn: Perspectives From the Americas

Guest Editors: Roberto Sirvent (Hope International University) and Amy Reed-Sandoval  (University of Texas at El Paso)

“The Decolonial Turn is about making visible the invisible and about analyzing the mechanisms that produce such invisibility or distorted visibility in light of a large stock of ideas that must necessarily include the critical reflections of the ‘invisible’ people themselves. Indeed, one must recognize their intellectual production as thinking – not only as culture or ideology (Nelson Maldonado-Torres, “On the Coloniality of Being”)

This special issue aims to fill a significant gap in the current scholarship surrounding decolonial thought and its condemnation of the West’s “paradigm of discovery and newness.” While much attention is paid to this paradigm’s “gradual propagation of capitalism, racism, the modern/gender system, and the naturalization of the death ethics of war,” far too little attention has been paid to its propagation of ableism.

The decolonial turn has been sparked by the rich contributions of intellectuals such as Aimé Césaire, Frantz Fanon, Chela Sandoval, Sylvia Wynter, Gloria Anzaldúa, Linda Tuhiwai Smith, Enrique Dussel, Linda Martín Alcoff, Nelson Maldonado-Torres, Walter Mignolo, and Lewis Gordon. It involves an attempt to expose and critique what is known as (1) the coloniality of power, (2) the coloniality of knowledge, and (3) the coloniality of being.

This special issue seeks articles that focus primarily on coloniality rather than colonialism. In other words, we concern ourselves less with the political and economic relations that one nation has with (and under) an imperial nation, and more with the various patterns and configurations of power that survive this imperial conquest. Authors are invited to explore the many ways that coloniality presents itself in the day to day lives of disabled individuals.

Since this issue focuses exclusively on the Americas, we encourage contributions from (and about) voices in Latin America, the Caribbean, as well as minority and indigenous groups in the United States. Our hope is that this special issue, by making visible the bodies and minds of disabled people, will offer a substantial contribution to the ‘unfinished project’ of decolonial thought. Contributors less familiar with decolonial theory and more familiar with postcolonial framings and critiques are also encouraged to contribute to this interdisciplinary and critical issue.

Key questions addressed in this interdisciplinary issue include, but are not limited to:

  • What does it mean to speak of an epistemological privilege of disabled people, especially as it relates to their unique position in the underside of modernity?
  • How does coloniality operate to make disabled bodies into invisible entities?
  • In a given context, who gets to define ability and disability? And what is at stake in defining these terms in a specific way?
  • How can decolonial thought aid in challenging ideologies of body normativity?
  • What are the dehumanizing modes of thinking and talking about disabled populations that are often overlooked in decolonial studies?
  • How can disabled bodies and spaces serve as sites for producing theory, knowledge, and philosophy?
  • What are the historical and colonial formations and manifestations of the ‘ability-disability’ distinction?
  • What are some critical and creative ways to examine the intersection of decolonial ethics, epistemology, and critical disability studies?
  • What are the colonial and neoliberal processes by which disabled people are constructed and framed, especially in regards to citizenship, migration, globalization, development, conflict, and security among others?

Crucial for this special issue is a rigorous examination of how disability intersects with the racial, gender, and sexual hierarchies generated and strengthened by Western modernity. Contributors are therefore urged to keep this at the forefront of their study.


Abstracts of 150-200 words due by: 10th September 2016

Full article due by: 20th May 2017

Abstracts and articles are to be sent to Roberto Sirvent (Hope International University) – rdsirvent@hiu.edu. Please insert ‘Submission: Disability and the Decolonial Turn: Special Issue’ in the subject line. 

Manuscripts will be sent anonymously for double peer review, and comments and recommendations relayed to authors through the editors.

Informal inquiries welcome and should be addressed to: rdsirvent@hiu.edu