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Resistance Reimagined: Disability and the Hidden Transcripts of Everyday Resistance

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posted on 01.08.2020, 00:00 authored by Emily Horowitz
Resistance studies is an emerging interdisciplinary field interested in analyzing various resistance practices and their relation to complex entanglements of power and resistance. Largely informed by the seminal work of James Scott in 1985, resistance studies is attentive not only to moments of collective direct action, revolution, and insurrection, but also to the small, informal, subtle and clandestine acts of “everyday resistance” employed by marginalized people. Despite the proliferation of resistance literature that accounts for this genre of small, informal everyday resistance, the everyday resistance of disabled people remains underexplored and undertheorized in resistance studies and in disability studies. This thesis uses discourse analysis to explore conceptual linkages and fissures between disability studies and resistance studies literature on power, disability oppression, and everyday resistance. Taking into consideration the complex systems of power that operate to isolate, exclude, control, surveille, and delegitimize disabled people and the multiple barriers to collective organizing, I suggest that discourses of disability resistance that focus exclusively on visible, collective resistance likely miss something important about how disability oppression and resistance operate. By attending more carefully to instances and patterns of everyday resistance of disabled people, disability and resistance studies scholars may not only begin to reimagine what resistance means, but also more critically evaluate how structures of domination operate to oppress disabled people. I conclude with a discussion of the challenges (both practical and ethical) associated with recognizing, accessing, excavating, decoding, and exposing “hidden transcripts” of everyday disability resistance in the archives and possibilities for recognizing and analyzing sites of contemporary everyday disability resistance.



Sufian, Sandra


Parker Harris, Sarah


Disability and Human Development

Degree Grantor

University of Illinois at Chicago

Degree Level


Degree name

MS, Master of Science

Committee Member

C h a r l t o n , J a m e s

Submitted date

August 2020

Thesis type




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