CFA: Philosophies of Disability and the Global Pandemic (deadline: Jul. 15, 2020)

Call for Abstracts for a special issue of International Journal of Critical Diversity Studies on the theme of Philosophies of Disability and the Global Pandemic

Guest editor: Shelley Tremain, Ph.D.

This notice cordially invites abstracts for a special issue of International Journal of Critical Diversity Studies (IJCDS) whose theme will be Philosophies of Disability and the Global Pandemic. The contributions to this themed issue of IJCDS will situate philosophical discussions about the COVID-19 pandemic within a global sphere, concentrating especially on diverse philosophies of disability, the apparatus of disability, ableism, and disabled philosophers.

Disabled philosophers of disability, Black philosophers, philosophers of race, Indigenous philosophers, LGBTQI philosophers, and feminist philosophers continue to identify how the discipline of philosophy is Western-/Euro-centric, ableist, racist, sexist, heterosexist, and transphobic with respect to the kinds of questions that philosophers ask, what responses to these questions are given serious uptake, what concerns are addressed, by whom, and why. Disabled philosophers of disability, philosophers of race, and Indigenous philosophers (among others) also continue to demonstrate that the asymmetries and apparatuses of power that condition the content of philosophy are both reflected in, and reproduced through, the demographics of the profession of philosophy, a profession disproportionately populated by nondisabled white people.

The continued medicalization of disability and disabled people in philosophical discussions is a case in point. Indeed, philosophical discussions about disability and the COVID-19 pandemic have been routinely medicalized, depoliticized, and decontextualized, primarily shaped by Western and European bioethicists who repeatedly obscure the myriad of social and political questions, issues, and concerns that disability raises in the context of COVID-19 (as well as before and beyond its emergence).

With few exceptions, that is, bioethicists have erased these social and political phenomena, remaining preoccupied with deliberation about preferred (bio)ethical frameworks for “triage” protocols. Although some bioethicists have articulated “anti-discriminatory” applications of the frameworks, these applications are grounded in the assumptions of capitalist market economies and Western individualism on which the frameworks and protocols are predicated.

This special issue of IJCDS will go some distance to change the ways that disability is framed in philosophical discussions about the pandemic, drawing attention to the historical, social, and political precursors and systemic relations of power that produce the (re)medicalization and depoliticization of disability in the context of COVID-19, as well as the social, economic, and geopolitical circumstances that these understandings conceal and reconstitute, including the ways that apparatuses of colonialism, nationalism, and imperialism collude with the apparatuses of disability and ableism.

Possible (but not exhaustive) topics for inclusion in this issue are:

  • Beyond capitalist triage: COVID-19, disability, and reconfiguration of the means of production
  • COVID-19, bioethics think tanks, and gentrification of the apparatus of disability and radical responses to it
  • Decolonial and postcolonial perspectives, interventions, and approaches to disability and the pandemic
  • Ageism, COVID-19 “high-risk” groups, and the social construction of vulnerability in neoliberal societies
  • Understanding disability and the pandemic through critical realism, historical materialism, and phenomenology
  • Transcultural, transnational, and transgender resistance to ableism, disability, and other apparatuses of power during the global pandemic
  • COVID-19, disability, and the Global South, including South America, Aotearoa/New Zealand, and South Africa
  • COVID-19 and accessibility, funding, and return-to-the-classroom for disabled students and precariously-employed disabled (philosophy) faculty
  • Anti-ableist uprisings in the philosophy blogosphere and other social media spurred on by the COVID-19 state of emergency
  • COVID-19, university lay-offs, and the ongoing exclusion of disabled philosophers from the profession of philosophy
  • COVID-19 and the metaphysical status of disability, disease, non-being, and contagion
  • Disability and food (in)security during the COVID-19 pandemic
  • The banality/familiarity/violence of quarantine and isolation for racialized, Indigenous, subaltern, and other disabled communities and constituencies—are we really “all in this together”?
  • Disabling incarceration and COVID-19: group homes, long-term care facilities, juvenile detention, immigration detention, psychiatric wards, and prisons
  • Social/physical distancing and histories of untouchability and segregation of castes, lepers, and other disabled people

Confirmed contributors to the issue: Catherine (Cato) Clune-Taylor, Nathaniel Adam Tobias Coleman, Tommy J. Curry, Elvis Imafidon, Shelley Tremain

Completed papers for Philosophies of Disability and the Global Pandemic may be 4,000–9,000 words in length (including endnotes and references) and must use author-date referencing. More detailed instructions for preparation of your final manuscript will be provided with your notification of acceptance.

Instructions for submission of your abstract: Send a 400-500-word abstract (prepared for anonymous review) as an attachment to To ensure consideration of your abstract, put “Disability Pandemic” in the subject line of the email.

Deadline for submission of abstracts: July 15, 2020

Notification of acceptances:  By July 30, 2020

Submission of completed papers: November 1, 2020

Date of publication: June 2021

International Journal of Critical Diversity Studies (IJCDS) is an exciting new peer-reviewed interdisciplinary journal published under the auspices of The Centre for Critical Diversity Studies (WiCDS) at the University of Witwatersrand.

Professor Melissa Steyn, South African National Research Chair and Director of WiCDS, is the Editor-In-Chief of IJCDS.

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