Dialogues on Disability: Shelley Tremain Interviews Andrea Pitts

Hello, I’m Shelley Tremain and I’d like to welcome you to the eighty-sixth installment of Dialogues on Disability, the series of interviews that I am conducting with disabled philosophers and post to BIOPOLITICAL PHILOSOPHY on the third Wednesday of each month. The series is designed to provide a public venue for discussion with disabled philosophers about a range of topics, including their philosophical work on disability; the place of philosophy of disability vis-à-vis the discipline and profession; their experiences of institutional discrimination and exclusion, as well as personal and structural gaslighting in philosophy in particular and in academia more generally; resistance to ableism, racism, sexism, and other apparatuses of power; accessibility; and anti-oppressive pedagogy.

The land on which I sit to conduct these interviews is the traditional territory of the Haudenosaunee and Anishinaabeg, covered by the Upper Canada Treaties and directly adjacent to Haldimand Treaty territory. As a settler, I offer these interviews with respect for and in solidarity with Indigenous peoples of Turtle Island and other colonized settler states.

My guest today is Andrea Pitts. Andrea, a Latinx settler who lives on Catawba territory in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, is an associate professor of philosophy at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte (UNC Charlotte) and affiliate faculty of the university’s Department of Africana Studies; Center for Holocaust, Genocide, and Human Rights Studies; Latin American Studies Program; and Women’s and Gender Studies Program; among others. Andrea is also the author of Nos/Otras: Gloria E. Anzaldúa, Multiplicitous Agency, and Resistance (2021) and co-editor with Mark Westmoreland of Beyond Bergson: Examining Race and Colonialism through the Writings of Henri Bergson (2019) and of Theories of the Flesh: Latinx and Latin American Feminisms, Transformation, and Resistance (2020) with Mariana Ortega and José M. Medina, as well as co-organizer with Perry Zurn of the Trans Philosophy Project, a professional and research initiative dedicated to supporting trans, nonbinary, and gender-variant philosophers. In their free time, Andrea likes to salsa dance, rock climb, and go hiking with their partner, Elisabeth, and their three rowdy dogs. 

Welcome to Dialogues on Disability, Andrea! Andrea, although you are based in a philosophy department, you are cross-appointed and teach in an array of other programs and departments at UNC Charlotte, which reflects the wide range of your research specializations and teaching interests. I’d like to begin this interview by asking you to fill us in on your educational and social background and your route to the position of philosophy professor.

First, thank you so much for the opportunity to be part of the Dialogues on Disability series. I’ve learned so much from these interviews and your many interviewees; so it’s a real honor to be asked to participate in an interview myself.

The truth is that I wasn’t exactly “college-bound.” My father had always said that if I wanted to go to college, I was going to need to get a scholarship to pay for it. Although I qualified for a statewide program in Florida that would pay for tuition at a state school if you received a certain GPA, I wasn’t really interested in college as a young person. I loved cars. I worked at an auto shop and eventually became an apprentice to a mechanic during my senior year of high school. My plan was to go to a local trade school for mechanics if things didn’t work out with college. My biggest motivation to go to college was that I happened to have a fantastic mentor, Frank T. Williams, III, who really sparked my interest in history. Frank, who understood that I was an angry kid who didn’t care about much except smoking pot, motivated me to become invested in learning about the history of jazz music and interpret that history as a political project. I ended up playing music–alto saxophone–and applied to a college program for music. Fortunately, I got into the program and even received a few small scholarships to pay for tuition.

When I got to university, I decided that I didn’t want to be a musician. I dropped out of the music program and realized that what I loved about the history of jazz–namely, that subtle changes to chord sequences and key changes could reframe the entire realm of possibilities for musicians in the future (think, John Coltrane’s Giant Steps, for example)–was also a feature of the history of philosophy. When I began to study philosophy of science and early modern European philosophy, I noticed similar patterns within the history of philosophical ideas. I loved how subtle changes in interpretation could open up entirely new realms of possibility for interpreting scientific phenomena, religious claims, and conceptions of the self.

[Description of photo below: Andrea, a nonbinary/trans masculine Latinx person with a short fade haircut, is wearing a collared shirt and leather jacket. They are smiling widely for the camera and standing in front of a wooden structure whose planks are covered in paint that is chipping.] 

I also loved that philosophy allowed me to critique organized religion and views about social norms and deviance. One of the first times that I went to a professor’s office hours–a criminal justice professor who was teaching us something about theories of deviance–I repeatedly asked him, “but why is some behavior considered deviant?” “what makes it so?” etc. He told me, straight up: “You need to go back to philosophy to answer those questions.” So, I did. I ended up majoring in philosophy and graduated just one quantitative methods course shy of a dual degree in sociology. When I finished my B.A., I learned that I could apply to stay in school for longer and potentially get paid for it, so I applied.

I’m still interested in histories of resistance and social norms/deviance, as my work demonstrates. I got lucky to land a job at a university that has a strong M.A. program in Latin American Studies, so I get to continue to bring my training and interests in that field to my teaching and mentorship of graduate students. My interests have never really been contained solely within philosophy. I studied Latin American and Caribbean history and literary studies when I worked on my M.A. and Ph.D. Both of those disciplines have always been a part of how I interpret my own activist and intellectual commitments.

Please tell us why you were motivated to write Nos/Otras: Gloria E. Anzaldúa, Multiplicitous Agency, and Resistance (2021) and how you benefited from doing so.

The book is really the product of about a decade and a half of thinking through questions that I still find compelling in the work of Gloria Anzaldúa and her readers. I first came across her work during my undergraduate studies when I was assigned a chapter of it in a “multicultural history” course. In short, the course was about non-white U.S. histories in which we read a bit from This Bridge Called My Back (1981), the edited collection by Anzaldúa and Cherríe Moraga. I felt very connected to the content. For the first time in my education, I was reading something that clicked with my own experiences and upbringing. I hadn’t read only white authors in school. As I mentioned above, I have had a few really fantastic Black mentors and teachers throughout the years. These teachers, sometimes in very subtle ways, taught me and my peers about the history of Black American cultural politics, the significance and beauty of Black Southern vernacular, and the specificity of Afro-Latin music traditions.

Despite this exposure to important Afro-diasporic content, however, I had never read anything about being Chicana or Latina or about the colonial politics and history of mestizaje in Latin America, though I had a sense of the Afro-diasporic roots of Latin jazz. The book immediately struck a chord with me as a mixed-race young person who was “out” as queer and trying to understand their rather bifurcated experiences of growing up with divorced parents, one of whom is a brown Central American woman, the other who is a white man from the U.S. South, and both of whom were hippies and progressives in different respects: my mother is a grassroots kind of community advocate and keen negotiator of governmental and public systems and my father is a liberal-minded journalist with a calling for public transparency and an embrace for all things countercultural. In this way, the ideas that Moraga and Anzaldúa expressed about differential relations to power, clashing cultural views, etc. had resonated with me in a very personal way and continue to do so.

It wasn’t until graduate school, around 2007/8, when I was working on with Ofelia Schutte at the University of South Florida that I had a chance to develop a philosophical and theoretical language to connect some of my early intuitions and affective responses to Anzaldúa’s work. In particular, in grad school, I was initially struck that Anzaldúa based her conception of mestiza consciousness on a quotation by Mexican philosopher, José Vasconcelos. In Ofelia’s “Latin American Philosophy” course at the time, we read La raza cósmica (1925), a rather foundational work by Vasconcelos within Mexican philosophy. In our discussions in the course, my colleagues and I underscored the text’s anti-Black and anti-Indigenous claims and implications. Later in that same seminar, we also read Anzaldúa, and I couldn’t make sense of why Anzaldúa would cite this guy, whose writings, for all intents and purposes, appeared to be antithetical to the coalitional political projects that Anzaldúa and other women of color writers took up during her lifetime.

I decided to pursue an independent study to read Anzaldúa with Ofelia. I also began to work with a Latin American cultural historian, Adriana Novoa, who showed me how to contextualize Vasconcelos’ writings and worldviews. Eventually, Adriana and I would go on to co-edit a special issue of the Inter-American Journal of Philosophy for which we invited and published contributions that sought to interrogate the relationships between Latin American and U.S. Latina/o philosophical discourses. As you might have already guessed, this relationship between Latin American and U.S. Latina/o thought tracked the very same relationships that had intrigued me about the Vasconcelos-Anzaldúa relationship–that is, the relationship between a Texas-based working class, queer Chicana author who articulated a framing of mestizaje and a straight, elite member of an intellectual and political intelligentsia in Mexico City who likewise developed a concept of mestizaje.

Our special issue took up several angles on Anzaldúa. At the time, I also read a lot of Vasconcelos and his peers from El Ateneo de la Juventud, a group of revolutionary-era philosophers based in Mexico City. I read a lot of Latin American literary and cultural theory–people like Sylvia Molloy, Jean Franco, and Doris Sommer. In fact, Doris Sommer’s work really stayed with me. She was the first theorist to give me a critical framing for the genre of autobiographical writing, providing me with a complicated notion of the relationship between readers and texts. That is, her book Proceed with Caution, When Engaged by Minority Writing in the Americas (1999) was monumental for me because it highlighted themes that, only later, did I connect to Anzaldúa’s writings. For example, Sommer allowed me to question how an author’s rhetorical strategies in a written work could create both invitations to and blockades against specific readers. This kind of material practice and maneuvering remains an interest of mine.

Later, when I began to pursue my Ph.D. at Vanderbilt, I continued to take courses in Latin American literary theory and continued to examine the dynamics between reader and writers. I ended up writing a chapter of my dissertation on Anzaldúa and autohistoria teoría, a term that describes a form of autobiographical writing theorized in her work. That dissertation work eventually ended up, in a revised form, in the book; however, it now was placed within a broader argument about critiques of individualism, cognitivism, and imperialism (among other concerns) that pointed to how Anzaldúa theorized the authorial self of the writer and her relational concept of reading as an embodied experience. In any case, I began to find her work to be importantly distinct from people like Vasconcelos, who positioned themselves as architects or heroes in nationalistic narratives.

I wanted to explain why her work was distinct from the form of authorial posturing exemplified by Vasconcelos and other nationalistic statesmen in the history of Latin American philosophy. For example, a chapter of my book examines how she navigated questions of Indigeneity and offered support for Indigenous land reclamation, which directly distinguishes her work from the politics of settler erasure and innocence that we find in someone like Vasconcelos. Importantly, writing as a queer woman, whose vulnerability to assault and degradation is what we might consider the “foundational fiction” of Mexican mestizaje, likewise distances her from autobiographical writers like Vasconcelos, who assume that the violation of Indigenous and brown women is simply the cornerstone of mestizo modernity.

In any case, that question, of contextual and relational difference, between Anzaldúa, her sources, and her readers is still a live question for me, and something that fueled my writing in the book and continues to motivate my current projects. For example, I’ve been writing recently about Anzaldúa’s published and unpublished intertextual relationship with Two-spirit Tyendinaga Mohawk author Beth Brant, which has been an exciting opportunity to see how–in their personal correspondences, as well as in the two authors’ written works–they supported and affirmed each other both in their differences and in their shared political struggles.

Andrea, you have told me that you “fiercely love” the disabled people in your life. Please describe how this love has shaped your life.

Like a lot of people, I didn’t always have the language of “disability” as a political framework or something that could name the patterned forms of inclusion and exclusion that my family and I have experienced. That is, the more I have studied disability theory, philosophy of disability, radical health-care activism, and so on, the more I’ve started to piece together things that were previously nebulous questions or inchoate feelings in my life. For example, despite growing up with a rather close blind family member, my grandfather–who I knew to be part of several generations of blind family members–I didn’t put together that this was a political facet of my family’s story. Also, I grew up with a sibling who wasn’t mainstreamed and who went to a private school for students with learning disabilities, which I knew cost our family a significant amount of money annually. Yet, again, that there were injustices to be named there or that there were debates about mainstreaming vs. inclusion that were relevant for our family just didn’t occur to me as a young person.

In this way, I think, like a lot of children of migrant families or otherwise marginalized families, I didn’t come to see disability as the primary lens through which we had to deal with difference. In fact, even though I’m queer and trans identified, I don’t really even see those facets of my identity as the most pressing points of difference for me, even today. Rather, it is my family’s Latinx status–our linguistic and religious differences, my family’s struggles with racism and sexism, and our family’s status of mixed migrant generations–ni de aquí, ni de allá [neither from here nor there]that has been and remains my first point of reference to existential questions regarding alienation and belonging.

Disability, as a political identity, just didn’t show up to me at first, largely because I could work and attend school. Growing up, I had the view that the term disability was only really applicable to people such as my grandfather who could no longer work and thus who came to rely on social security benefits as a way to contribute to a household income. I know that it’s a problematic and naïve view. I’m actually ashamed to admit that I believed it; but it was the way in which I came to initially approach the term disability.

Of course, I know now, through the work of disabled philosophers of disability like you, Shelley, and other authors who provide an expansive view of disability beyond mere labor and liberal-inclusion paradigms, that the view of disability that I once held is far too narrow.

I knew that my mother and our family negotiated sliding scale health clinics, HIV/AIDS resources, housing and food instability, and public welfare services for access to mental health care and primary care. Yet, again, these circumstances didn’t show up to me as political issues early on. Rather, I came to disability politics through learning about prisons and prison health care when, in graduate school, I worked with a group of incarcerated and nonincarcerated philosophers in an organization called REACH Coalition in Nashville, TN. Lisa Guenther, one of my committee members, ran the group at the time.

I had read some disability theory in my bioethics courses, e.g., Susan Wendell’s The Rejected Body, and some other work on disability by bioethicists, but because a lot of that work didn’t grapple with race or ethnicity in any substantive way, things still hadn’t clicked for me. With REACH, I found myself drawn to anti-carceral politics. As I mentioned, my parents were both countercultural in different ways; so, I grew up with a pretty healthy fear, and often disdain, for the police. My family and I had had our own share of run-ins with police and jail-time at various points. When I started to work with REACH and to learn about intergenerational violence, racial profiling, forms of entrapment that impact communities of color, and so on, I began to see how so many dimensions of–not just my life–but the lives of so many people in Black and brown communities have been devastated by the carceral system.

This group really politicized health care issues for me in a way that was distinct from the bioethics content that I had read. With REACH Coalition, I began to work with a sub-committee on medical services in the prison. The guys in the group (all cis-identified, I believe) started outlining forms of abuse, neglect, and the systemic harms that they experienced. They didn’t just name the harms. They offered robust, structural accounts of how prison health-care systems were built, run, and operated to keep their plights hidden from legal and public view. It was an incredibly transformative time for me. We tried to implement a number of initiatives through that advocacy group, including a phone tree call-in for people who needed external support to demand their care and a wristband program that would list the allergens and chronic conditions for everyone locked up inside.

This latter program addressed a really big issue because people were receiving the wrong medications and were disbelieved, treated as “malingerers,” when they reported that they needed medical care for chronic conditions. Of course, all these initiatives were piecemeal solutions to broader injustices. Nevertheless, these strategies came from the incarcerated members of REACH themselves. Us nonincarcerated folks strived to honor their priorities and immediate needs over anything else. I eventually work-shopped some of my research with the group and continue to be grateful to the members of REACH for the educational care and labor that they demonstrated by working with us “outsiders” and trusting us to bear witness to their stories.

After working for a few years to understand and theorize carceral health-care politics, I realized that the more disability studies that I read, the more connections that I could make to name and interpret the patterned racialized harms that Black and brown communities experienced in the carceral system. Authors like Liat Ben-Moshe, Nirmala Erevelles, and Jasbir Puar gave me a new take on the political stakes of disability inclusion/exclusion, including how governmental designations of disability, like the ones that I had operated with as a young person, were a very narrow way to interpret disability discourses. Learning more about the Black Panther Party’s Community Survival Programs and the Young Lords’ community health activism also gave me new framings for the injustices that I had witnessed growing up. Now, I’m firmly committed to disability justice politics, crip-of-color critique, and historical interpretations of the biopolitics of disability and the apparatus of disability. But it’s taken me some time to figure out how this more critical, contextual, and expansive view of disability can enable me to understand how a variety of phenomena have impacted my life. 

So back to your question about love, what I mean is that I came to realize that so much of my life has been shaped by disability in these broader senses. I should be careful here about using the term disabled people because not all the folks that I’m thinking of would or do identify with the term. However, because my life has been so critically shaped by people who have negotiated or continue to negotiate dimensions of the apparatus of disability, I’m committed to fight against systemic ableism in all its forms. That is, I want to fight for a future in which (for instance) blind Latinx abuelos feel loved and valued by their communities, people have access to free health-care resources for their arthritis and HIV/AIDS medications, and women are believed when they report about the status of their own body-minds and describe the pain and trauma that they have endured. When I say “I fiercely love the disabled people in my life,” I mean that I am willing to fight with them for a future that allows us to flourish and feel affirmed in all our fullness and complexity.

How does your identity as a racially and ethnically mixed queer and trans Latinx philosopher, who, as you put it, lives with chronic illness, alcoholism, and anxiety, inform your research, teaching, and activism? In particular, how does this identity condition your work in the context of the Trans Philosophy Project that you co-organize with Perry Zurn?

Well, as I mentioned, I came to disability studies late in my graduate studies, and I think I’m still learning a lot about how disability justice issues shape my research, teaching, and activism. For example, when writing Nos/Otras, I started to dig into questions regarding Anzaldúa’s relationship with disability. This opened up avenues for me about why Chicanx and Latinx communities may not always take up the label of “disabled” in our activist work and theorizing.

That is, Anzaldúa rejected what she called “slices-of-the-pie” frameworks of identity–i.e., this group gets this accommodation, that group gets that acknowledgement, that other group gets a form of public inclusion within a given institution, etc. For one thing, that’s not how intersectionality works. Anzaldúa knew this as someone who lived with diabetes, underwent invasive surgeries and medical interventions since she was an infant, and wrote as a queer brown person who fought against a variety of the prevailing norms of her day. With all of this, she clearly could have taken up the mantle of disability politics. As Aurora Levins Morales notes, however, Anzaldúa likely didn’t, at the time, have recourse to a politicized group of other people of color (POC) who also framed their lives and struggles in terms of disability.

As Chris Bell and other scholars of color have pointed out, disability studies, as an academic field, has been, historically, very white and sometimes stubbornly so. The more that I started to figure this out–that the whiteness of disability studies is very real, but that there are also amazing scholars and activists like Bell and Julie Minich, and others who critique the whiteness of disability studies directly–the more that I realized that disability wasn’t an “added factor” to my research (i.e., another slice of the pie), but rather a foundational way to reinterpret systemic racism, colonialism, etc.

After this realization, my research on Anzaldúa really expanded in some exciting ways. For example, since the book, which includes a chapter on disability politics and Anzaldúa’s work, I’ve written several other pieces that track different dimensions of colonial ableism through her work, including a chapter on how Anzaldúa reconfigured questions of sexuality, disability, and mestizaje through her writings on Coyolxauhqui and St. Teresa of Ávila, as well as a chapter currently under review on Anzaldúa’s writings on curanderismo and processes of healing from intergenerational trauma.

Despite knowing that I am part of a multi-generational community of folks who have struggled with and been stigmatized for alcoholism, this aspect of my self-understanding is not something that I initially framed in terms of disability justice either. Like a lot of people who struggle in these ways, I felt ashamed, that it was a private failing on my part, and that my family and I were just not able to “handle” drinking. I have learned a lot about how to politicize alcohol and drugs by reading Indigenous scholars such as Dian Million (Tanana Athabascan) who writes about how alcohol and drugs are fought among Native communities as part of decolonial struggle and how such communities have come to name substance use and dependency as ways to mask underlying intergenerational trauma and systemic racialized and colonial harms. Substance use and dependency are not the individual moral failings that some people think that they are, but rather are sometimes disastrous ways that oppressed communities learn to survive and cope with intergenerational trauma.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not a crusader for sobriety or “temperance” or anything like that. I’m just someone who’s become aware that alcohol can destroy my stability and relationships in ways that I don’t want. I’ve also learned from other folks who have given up booze that it’s okay for me to live a life without alcohol, which was hard to do. I’m also a big advocate for the decriminalization and legalization of drugs. In terms of resources, I think the best methods out there these days are harm reduction strategies that don’t condemn or moralize drug and alcohol use. In this vein, I’ve been doing some recent writing with several folks who work in a community health clinic in Rhode Island on questions regarding the development of safe consumption sites and how we can identify the workings of systemic racism even within the infrastructure of such important and life-saving provisions. We have a piece forthcoming in the Journal of Addiction Medicine on this topic later this year.

With respect to the Trans Philosophy Project (TPP), Perry and I have prioritized bringing together conversations on trans issues and disability in all of our collaborations. For example, back in 2018, we had a great conference bringing together these dialogues, including talks by Eli Clare, Mel Chen, Zoe Belinsky, Julian Honkasalo, Fiona Maeve Geist, Nihils Rev, Brooklyn Leo, and others who really brought to the fore connections between trans and disability discourses. The TPP website has a multilingual bibliography that has started to compile a list of works in trans philosophy, a portion of which tracks these same discussions about the historical and contextual relations between trans and disability discourses, including several interviews from Dialogues on Disability! This work with the TPP tracks the same point that I mentioned above: disability isn’t an “add on” to gender politics; it’s foundational for rethinking what both disability and transness mean, including their histories, present-day conditions, and futures.

Andrea, given your social position with respect to disability, race, gender, and class (among other subjecting categories), what institutional barriers, inaccessibility, and exclusions have you confronted, either as a student, faculty member, or both?

Lately, I’ve had to fight against systemic forms of denials of credibility and distrust by white people. I confronted this sort of injustice as a kid when I was a “court-involved youth.” To make a long story short, my mother talked down a judge from formally charging me with a felony conviction when I was twelve years old. The white family of a twelve-year-old white kid pressed felony assault charges against me for punching the kid in the face. I remember hearing my mom say on the phone to the other kid’s mother: “You people? What do you mean ‘you people’?” and I realized that something else was going on. I was accused of some really egregious stuff–i.e., assault with a deadly weapon–because my fist was supposedly a “lethal weapon” given that I was in karate classes at the time; and I was charged with a violent crime that could have destroyed my life.

I now know that lots of other kids in the juvenile injustice system deal with these sorts of problems. Because of white privilege, my fierce advocate-mother, a lenient judge, or whatever it was (maybe a combination of all of these factors), I was able to avoid a felony conviction with only a misdemeanor put on my record that was expunged when I turned eighteen. Regardless of the outcome, however, the claim that the other kid’s family pursued through the courts–that a child of twelve was a malicious criminal who deserved the harshest of penalties and all of the collateral consequences that come with that felony–was eye-opening for me. The whole situation showed me that wealthy white people can be vicious in their pain and anger and, furthermore, that I needed to take heed that I could be seriously harmed by them. I also learned that narratives about who I was, what I thought, and what I intended were wrapped up in a lot of other things that I didn’t fully understand or control–things that, again, could cause me a lot of hardship if I wasn’t more cautious and skillful at trying to negotiate them.

I’m not a scrapper anymore (at least not in the same way), but I still see that viciousness from white folks and that protectiveness amongst them that leads to serious violence against Black and brown communities. For example, I’ve been told by a white man that the people I’m with shouldn’t be speaking Spanish in public (at a public park!). Recently, I had to defend both my mother and I in a hospital setting by convincing a white doctor that she and I weren’t drug-seeking. I’ve also had to demand that a white clerk in a Georgia Department of Motor Vehicle office reread my mother’s documents that provide proof of her citizenship and thus her eligibility to vote. In short, my family and I have dealt with a pattern of white mistrust.

This distrust doesn’t go away in academia. One of its more prevalent forms in academia is, I think, that often POC and other folks from oppressed groups get accused of trying to “shortcut” university regulations or not comply with them at all. I dealt with that kind of distrust in grad school when I tried to get course credit for an independent study to read Frantz Fanon. The grad director at the time accused me of attempting to avoid or subvert the departmental requirements because I didn’t want to take the other course offerings by white professors on topics such as “just war theory” and “political liberalism.” As a faculty member, I continue to deal with it. Recently I’ve been dealing with several white cisgender administrators who don’t trust the decision-making capacities of a committee that I’m working on, a committee which is majority LGBTQ POC. We’re trying to make systemic changes that are consistent with the “diversity, equity, and inclusion” goals of the organization, e.g., the introduction of funded awards for untenured and grad student scholars from marginalized groups; yet, my committee is repeatedly accused of potential “self-dealing” and dishonesty about financial matters.

It’s gross, because I’ve worked with some of these white admin for several years without ever giving them a reason to doubt my credibility–financially, ethically, or otherwise. In any case, while the terms of higher education and professional philosophy are different from those that I experienced in the legal system as a kid, they do add up to a broader pattern: repeated experiences of distrust by white cis people who are willing to do anything to protect their own institutional status and authority. It’s infuriating, and, again, it gives me all the more reason to fight for a collective future with other LGBTQ, POC, and disabled folks, a future in which we’re affirmed, valued, and trusted.

How would you like to end this interview, Andrea? Is there anything you want to tell our readers and listeners that we haven’t discussed or anything you want to further elaborate? Do you want to recommend some articles, books, or other resource materials that you haven’t mentioned?

I’d just like to say that I appreciate the labor and time that you put into these interviews, Shelley. As I said, I learn a lot from your work and the philosophers you interview here. Thank you for this opportunity to participate in the Dialogues on Disability series. I also want readers and listeners of this interview to know that I have a chapter on addiction and disability discourses in your forthcoming edited collection, The Bloomsbury Guide to Philosophy of Disability, scheduled for publication in Spring 2023. If anyone’s interested in additional analysis and discussion of the discursive construction of addiction and disability, they should get that collection when it’s published next year and check out my chapter.

Andrea, thank you so much for a breathtakingly fascinating interview. I’m thrilled by the connections that you make in your research and between your academic work, community involvement, and family relations. I’m sure that our readers and listeners have enjoyed this interview immensely. Furthermore, I know that your chapter in The Bloomsbury Guide to Philosophy of Disability is pathbreaking.

Readers/listeners are invited to use the Comments section below to respond to Andrea Pitts’s remarks, ask questions, and so on. Comments will be moderated. As always, although signed comments are preferred, anonymous comments may be permitted.


Please join me here again on Wednesday, June 15th, 2022, for the eighty-seventh installment of the Dialogues on Disability series and, indeed, on every third Wednesday of the months ahead. I have a fabulous line-up of interviews planned. If you would like to nominate someone to be interviewed (self-nominations are welcomed), please feel free to write me at s.tremain@yahoo.ca. I prioritize diversity with respect to disability, class, race, gender, institutional status, nationality, culture, age, and sexuality in my selection of interviewees and my scheduling of interviews.

All of the interviews that I have conducted in the Dialogues on Disability series are archived on BIOPOLITICAL PHILOSOPHY here.

From April 2015 to May 2021, I coordinated, edited, and produced the Dialogues on Disability series without any institutional or other financial support. A Patreon account now funds the series, enabling me to continue to create it. You can contribute your support for these vital interviews with disabled philosophers at the Dialogues on Disability Patreon page here.

4 Responses

  1. […] “What I loved about the history of jazz—namely, that subtle changes to chord sequences and key c… — philosopher Andrea Pitts (UNC Charlotte) is interviewed about their life and work in philosophy, with a particular focus on social identities […]


  2. […] opportunities, publication notices, profiles of philosophers, etc., related to medieval philosophy “What I loved about the history of jazz—namely, that subtle changes to chord sequences and key c… — philosopher Andrea Pitts (UNC Charlotte) is interviewed about their life and work in […]


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