Epistemologies of Families of Children with Disabilities in the Global South

Call for Papers

Disability and the Global South

Special Issue: Epistemologies of Families of Children with Disabilities in the Global South

Guest Editors: Shridevi Rao (The College of New Jersey) and Maya Kalyanpur (University of San Diego)

Since the 1970s, a rich body of literature documenting the perspectives of families of children with disabilities has emerged in the Global North. Encompassing personal narratives as well as the use of qualitative methodology, this literature has been powerful in documenting how families understand and construct disability, how they navigate entrenched and institutionalized forms of ableism and disablism, and in particular how they have challenged the exclusionary practices of schools and educational systems. In highlighting the epistemological position of families, or the ways in which families interpret and construct disability within the context of the close interactions and relationships that characterize a family, this body of literature has been instrumental in significantly affecting changes in perceptions of families’ responses to disability in the Global North.

However, not much is known within these narratives about how families of children with disabilities in the Global South understand disability or navigate their experiences of raising a child with a disability. Instead, borrowed and often outdated templates and discourse approach and construct families’ interpretations of disability using a simplistic, reductive, and deficit-based lens. An overwhelming presence of a biomedical model that values professional knowledge rather than knowledge of parents and a professional narrative of the child as a burden to the family has obscured the local and indigenous perspectives of families.

We suggest that the lived experiences of families of children with disabilities in the Global South are more complex, nuanced and layered. The purpose of this special issue is to offer a space for complex and alternative understandings of the perspectives of families of children with disabilities in the Global South including the possibilities for variations in constructions of belonging and personhood.

The key questions addressed in this issue, though not exclusively, are:

  • How do families in the Global South interpret and understand disability?

  • How do they construct and interpret the identity and personhood of their children? In what ways do these interpretations resist or challenge biomedical and other constructions, including of disability?

  • How do localized families’ understandings of disability compare and contrast with globalized and/or hegemonic ‘templates’ of disability? How do families negotiate these differences?

  • How do intersectionalities and the various complexities of social class, gender, caste, or religion among others, impact families and how they experience and live disability, and how they respond?

  • What barriers do families encounter in schools, communities and other contexts as they navigate disability? How do they negotiate these barriers?

  • How do families understand inclusion/exclusion, inclusive education, and community? To what extent do their perspectives align with or differ from international standards and discourse?

Those wishing to submit an article, please email the full paper to both Shridevi Rao (raos@tcnj.edu) and Maya Kalyanpur (mkalyanpur@sandiego.edu). Please insert ‘Submission for Epistemologies of Families of Children with Disabilities in the Global South Special Issue’ in the subject line. Please do not email your manuscript to DGS.

  • Manuscripts will be sent anonymously for double peer review, and comments and recommendations relayed to authors through the editors.
  • FULL PAPERS are due by: September 30th, 2017 for first round reviews.
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